Monday, July 19, 2010

Solitude and Contemplation

By: Sr. Mary Jo Chaves

We have often heard the phrase that “silence is golden.” That was probably true for our elementary school teachers who treasured those moments when her students were intent upon some project that required a quiet thoughtful process. What about our lives as adults? What place does solitude and silence have in our spiritual journey? Does the TV, radio or IPod, immediately get turned on when we walk into our homes or get into our cars? When are we comfortable with silence or do we fill up the “air waves” when silence is pending?

Here at the Center Marilyn Kirvin and I are coordinating a silent directed retreat from July 13 – 19. Each day each retreatant meets with her spiritual director to walk the retreatant’s spiritual journey together and to discern God’s spirit at work in the retreatant’s life. There are optional contemplative prayer opportunities throughout the day. Except for spiritual direction and prayer together the retreatants keep silence from the evening of July 13th until the morning of July 19th. Though it may take a day or two to settle into the retreat it soon becomes quite a “luxury” to have ample time to rest, pray and contemplate without interruption the mystery of God at work in their lives through spiritual reading, personal reflection, art work, or other creative activities. The silence and solitude deepen as the week progresses. A community of prayer and reflection is formed around the sense of solitude.

St. Francis of Assisi encouraged his followers to make silent retreats periodically in order to get a new lens on one’s life and then to carry the retreat in one’s heart as one went about daily life. How might we respond to such an invitation? Maybe the radio or TV can wait when we have an opportunity for a “mini-retreat” for a few minutes. Our God doesn’t necessarily need much of our time; our God needs our presence and full attention to God’s work in our lives. Solitude, silence and contemplation can empty our minds and hearts so we can hear the still small voice of our God within our inner being.

In these “lazy days of summer” take time to smell the roses, to sit and be silent. Psalm 46 encourages us to “Be still and know that I am God.” May silence and contemplation bring you to a deeper knowing of our abundant God!