Not long ago I was fortunate to participate in a weekend retreat at a Jesuit monastery that focused on prayer and silence. The prayer, the silence, the surrounding natural habitat, the prayerful monks and the beautiful architecture met a need in me that I hardly knew I had. It was as though the emptiness of the monastery somehow filled me up.
The whole weekend was an opportunity to unplug from the world, to rest and to be silent. I quickly found out how much the noise and adrenaline of my daily activities artificially fuel my mind and body. I even slept a lot more than normal without the stimulants of my busy life. It was as though each thing that I turned off or each task set aside became another layer of noise that was removed. Only then was I was able to really hear myself and hear the nudges of God more clearly.
While we can’t all live at a monastery in peaceful bliss, we can learn a great deal from the monks. They value things like solitude, nature, prayer, reverence, worship, charity, education and simple contemplation….all the things the outside world seems to have less and less time for. With nothing else “normal” to do, I found myself simply sitting and “being” with God….not even praying, just being. By Saturday afternoon I was walking much more slowly than normal…..slow like….very slow.
I cannot explain the solemn worship and peace I experienced at the early morning Abbey service. The monks’ chants and scripture readings were stunningly reverent.
Short of an experience at St. Bernard’s Abbey, I highly recommend time away from your routine, completely unplugged….no agenda, no words, no cell phone, no computer, no books…maybe even no prayer….just being with God. Even if it’s just for 3 hours….
One of our prayer exercises was to walk throughout the extensive trails and grounds and delight in God’s power and beauty in nature – God’s “second book”. The main thing God reminded me of was His renewing power. Since it was March 23rd, winter had officially ended and I noticed signs of spring everywhere.
I was reminded that God is in the renewing business – He takes the old parts of me that aren’t in alignment with Him and He brings them to life – indeed He brings seeming dead things to new life.
I hope you enjoy the short video I produced during my walk. I pray that you allow silence and rest to invade your world and perhaps fill the empty places in you that yearn for more of God’s presence.