Saturday, July 16, 2005


Our being is silent, but our existence is noisy.
--Thomas Merton

We bloggers enjoy our words. I wonder though if we take enough time out when we're not writing to practice the spiritual discipline of "silence and holy listening". I know that my words can quickly become hurtful and condemning when I'm not rooted in God's compassion. Taking time out to simply "be" in God's presence through the practice of silence brings me back to God's love and helps me connect with that.

In her article about a personal experience of practicing silence, Anne A. Simpkinson says:
"At a 10-day Centering Prayer retreat at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, we practiced Grand Silence where you do not speak except for participating in the Catholic Mass, and you also refrain from eye contact. Though it sounds extreme, it’s actually a relief to forego social niceties—the chit chat, the smiles--in favor of focusing on your interior self. It’s equally astonishing to realize after three or four days that you’re no longer paying attention to cues from the external world, but that you have truly turned inward."

"What became very clear to me that day as I “sat” in meditation was that not only did the retreat house have a plumbing problem, but I had a problem, a pocket of anger that exploded when I felt I was not being taken care of. You can retreat from the world, I realized, but not from yourself."

I'm thinking I need to be quiet more. Maybe a retreat to Cullman AL. is calling me.

Simpkinson ends her article with:
"And if, like my young colleague, you think you can’t be quiet for more than five minutes, think of the retreat as an extended conversation with God. Silence being, as St. John of the Cross once said, God’s first language."



Zoomdaddy said...

I've noticed that silence is a spiritual discipline that one never "masters," no matter how much practice you get at it. I know the traditional thought about silence, is that most people are afraid to be alone with their thoughts and who they really are. I don't have those fears, and I am very aware of my internal dialogue. However, I tend to be quite distracted by my own thoughts when I am simply trying to focus and be with God. The thoughts aren't all bad, and they may very well be God talking to me (most of them revolve around "vision" of how I can practically serve the Lord with I have right now). However, I am a typical Xer with too short of an attemtion span, and I get "bored" waiting in God's presence. That's when my thoughts wander and my mind becomes noisy again. But it's a good challenge for me, so I continue to do it.

gavin richardson said...

do hear monastic retreat in the future?

St.Phransus said...

I feel ya zoom,
I think that's why the idea of practice is so important. doing it over and over helps us, maybe not eliminate all the meanderings of our minds, but it helps us focus on God's presence. I think silence in this sence is one of those holy habits called a means of grace that wesley talked about.

all i have to say is, yup yup, let's go.


Monk-in-Training said...

I know that the practice of Centering Prayer or silence connects me with the Spirit in ways I can not describe.

Yes a Monastery is a wonderful place to experience it, tho you can do it in any place in your home.

St.Phransus said...

yes, very true. Gavin and I have a connection with St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman AL. So for us it's part of our own spiritual pilgrimage.

postmodernegro said...

Next time I am back home I will have to check that out. I need to be silent. Life has been quite noisy lately. Thanks for this reflection brother.