I returned yesterday from a 6 day silent retreat at a Franciscan retreat center in Tiffin, Ohio. It was a wonderful week for me and offered a time and a place for soul renewal.
I had never done a directed silent retreat before - I had done 3 days of silence in a hermitage twice - but this was very different. First of all, I was part of a group of retreatants who spent the week together mostly in silence. And that was a great blessing to me. Most of the people I did not know - they were Roman Catholic sisters - but I was familiar with one woman from Columbus who I really like and will continue to connect with after this. Everyone except she and I were Catholic.
The retreat was led by two nuns - one was sister Breta, my former spiritual director from Fremont and a protestant laywoman.
We began the week in worship on Sunday night in which we shared our desire for the week. Mine was for soul restoration. We each had our own room with a bed, a desk, a comfortable chair, dresser and sink. It was quiet and private and perfect.
Every morning began with the convent bells ringning at 6 AM and then we had optional contemplative prayer at 7 AM. I participated in that 4 out of 5 mornings. We had breakfast at 7 AM, lunch at noon and dinner at 5. There were two rooms available - one if we wanted to talk and the other was for eating in silence with music in the background. I ate 2 out of three meals in silence. Always breakfast.
I met with my spiritual director, Nancy, every morning at 9 AM for an hour of either direction or reiki. I received reiki twice that week.
The rest of the time I "spent with God." - which means prayer, walking in the beautiful grounds, sitting in contemplation, reading scripture, reading devotional books, writing, It is hard to describe a week like this. It is definitely a time of slowing down and resting. I took naps every day - which is something I never ever do in my "regular life."
What happened to me over the course of the week is that I confronted my grief about the loss of my sister last year in a very real way. I also was able to recognize and pray about (confess) my work compulsions and other compulsions that have driven me so much. All of this was possible because of the setting and the time. The most important revelation for me was being able to hear the "voice" - the voice of the holy saying some very important words to me. Among them were the words - "let me love you." So often, our faith is about us loving God but our love is always responsive to God's love for us. And so, there was this peace and clarity as the voice said - "let me love you - let me show you how much I love you." And God did.
I wrote a song about it which I will share in my next post.
My desire is that the peace that I feel right now will continue as I continue the practices that were so helpful - silence, walking, writing, reading.
God is good All the time