What the silence says
I am writing from St. Beuno’s in North Wales, where I am accompanying people on an 8 day individually guided retreat. To the West of the hillside on which St. Beuno’s sits, the A55 carries an almost constant stream of traffic. In contrast, here there is stillness. Those who come on retreat let go of the connectivity of the internet, phone and email. They stay in one place, meeting the challenge of silence.
From the outside a retreat might look like an escape – a movement from the real world into an artificial peace. But silence is anything but an escape. It is an encounter with our deepest self: our longings, fears and needs. We have nowhere to run; no place to hide; no activity to distract us from truth. But silence – and the truth it holds – is kind, for here we encounter the kindness of God: a loving gaze, a hand that takes ours when we are afraid, a truthful mirror reflecting back to us who we really are.
Here are some words that I sense come from the deep of God:
‘Let me show you what the created world looks like when you start to be present to it.
Be aware of the beauty of life.
Notice its colours and sounds.
How ‘alive’ it is!
It is a joy always open for you to wander in.’
‘Let me take you round this life you inhabit.
You know it as a fearful place, where wild beasts roam free.
But look! The angels dwell here too.
You are on holy ground of my presence and care.’
‘Let me show you who I am. I feel your pain.
I am moved to give all that I am to set you free.
I am your servant, not your oppressor.
I am the mystery beyond what you once believed about me.
I want you to be.’
‘Let me introduce you to who you really are.
See, there is so much more to discover!
If you but befriend what you turn from,
you will begin to know the contours of your face,
and hear the sound of your own voice.
It will take time for you to feel at ease.
But if you make your home in me,
you will come to be at home with who you are,
and you life will be fruitful.’
· Listen to your ‘deep’. Don’t be afraid of it.
· With or without words, allow God to meet you where you are and as you are.
· Open your heart to receive the healing and life-giving deep of God.