Wednesday, August 29, 2012
The retreat house sat on a hill surrounded by deep woods.Across the front lawn and to the North were mountain tops with a wisp of fog at the peaks.I was to stay at the House of Prayer in North Carolina for four days.The Appalachian Trail wound its way above, close to the house and the Jesuits had built a hiker's refuge on the retreat grounds for their free use.The thought of that kindness set the tone for my stay.
Since I had never been on such a long retreat before,I had packed thirteen,yes ,that many ,books to keep my mind occupied.After putting my purse and bag in my room ,I turned to go back to the car for the books and suddenly heard distinctly this guidance:"Leave the books and be just with Me."Oh,how do I do that?
For four days,I spoke with no one,read not a word.I wandered the grounds,gazed at the mountain tops,sat with a friendly cat on a grey slab bench,went up the trail,wrote in my journal,all in silence.Once, at a silent lunch, I picked up a magazine and the words brought me back to the commonness,the plane of real life.It was like the warm silver cloud of Presence that wrapped me in It's arms had disappeared.I put the magazine down and left the room to find my way back.
What comes to mind is a rest in music-that space where the previous ,soaring note hangs in quiet to be savored by the listener.The notes before and after gain a deeper beauty from that stop.
I thought of all this today when I received an e-mail from my friends at Heron Dance, with this quote:
"We are all joined in the holiness of the mind that God created.I therefore never consider myself alone in the silence.I'm 90 and live alone in a four room house surrounded by open space.I have no T.V. and have always luxuriated in silence.The exterior silence is here.The interior silence is a work in progress"-Hazel,with thanks to Friends of Silence.
I love Hazel's word,luxuriate.That is exactly what I did for those days.One could do worse than to be a "swinger of birches "or a friend of silence.