I was so fortunate to be able to take a few days this past weekend and go on Silent Retreat. I’ve never attended one before. For those of you who know me and are reading this right now, realizing I couldn’t talk for more than two days, I’d appreciate it if you’d stop laughing now. Really…just stop.
I learned many things while with the Carmelite Sisters. I observed many things. I listened for many things. I’ll be sure to share some of these nuggets in the days and weeks ahead (depending on God’s plan for this blog and what other thing He may hit me over the head with in the meantime). But suffice it to say, I learned the greatest lesson near the end of my time at Sacred Heart Retreat House, the morning of Day #3…one I didn’t anticipate learning at this quiet place of respite.
The lesson actually had to do with rest. The first hour we were there, during a half hour orientation to the grounds and a beautiful Scripture based slideshow, the retreat leader emphasized the intended point of making this type of trip. “We want this to be a weekend of rest for you. We want you to leave here recharged, with possibly a new vision of what is to come and a renewed sense of bringing His message out into the world.”
So on Sunday morning, Day #3 of the retreat, I was shocked to glance in the bedroom mirror and see a bedraggled woman staring back at me with under-eye bags equipped to hold a week’s worth of groceries, sallow skin and a look and feel of utter exhaustion. I was so disappointed…not in the retreat but in myself. Where had I gone wrong?
I got it together with lots of eye concealer and blush and ventured down to the little kitchenette for a cup of coffee. Once I had my cup, I walked to the garden, to my undeclared but privately claimed spot, and sat down. My mind was a whirr but once I had calmed it down a bit, I let out an inner rueful laugh and prayed, “God, I think I didn’t do it right.”
At once I heard, without equivocation or question…
“You don’t have to DO anything. You just have to BE.”
Ahhhhhhh, of course. I was so busy trying to learn and absorb, attend every conference and service, participate in each scheduled activity that I lost Him along the way. My brain was tired…my body was tired…I was just plain weary.
I had neglected stillness in the desire for enlightenment.
And all the while, I had forgotten the most important precept at a Silent Retreat…
He is not with us in the noise.
He is not with us in the bustle.
He lives in the silence of our hearts.
And when we find quiet, He is there awaiting us