April 28 to May 1, 2016, Cambridge, MA
Now there was a great wind,
so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord,
but the Lord was not in the wind;
and after the wind an earthquake,
but the Lord was not in the earthquake;
and after the earthquake a fire,
but the Lord was not in the fire;
and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.
When Elijah heard it,
he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
Then there came a voice to him that said,
‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’
(1 Kings 19:11-12)
One of the great gifts of the monastic life is holy Silence. It is simple — so simple we might not give it any attention. Yet when we date to enter the silence, we have an opportunity to see how powerful God’s presence has been all along. God is always around us; it is our own awareness that is dulled – dulled by busy-ness, by the noise of everyday life, by external and internal voices alike.
Entering into Holy Silence can be refreshing and renewing. It can also be challenging. Often we are so accustomed to noise that weening ourselves off our daily distractions may seem daunting if not impossible. Moreover, in the Silence, we risk encountering things that may frighten us: ourselves…and God. If you have not spoken intimately with God in a while – or ever — what might God have to say to you? Has God’s voice been drowned out by the world; or have you possibly been avoiding God’s words to you and intentionally drowning them out? Are you nervous about what God’s voice may sound like?
By stripping away the external voices, we can begin to hear our internal voices. Paying attention to them, we can begin to discern which voice might be God, which might be our true selves, which might be our false selves — or others. Listening to them, we can learn to engage them or quiet them. Focusing on the holy voices, we can begin to feel a stirring of something very Real in our hearts and souls – something sacred, something divine, something for each of us.
This kind of spiritual work is exciting, but it is important to have spiritual structure and spiritual guides along this way. The physical space and time for Silence at the SSJE monastery gives us the structure to enter into silence. The SSJE brothers will be present with their spiritual knowledge and wisdom to lead us.
Do not be afraid. I invite you to come and risk an encounter with God.
Our silent retreat at the Society of St. John the Evangelist is April 28 to May 1, at their monastery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Spaces are limited, so sign up soon! Reserve your space by February 15 with a deposit of $100; balance of $375 due by April 25. To reserve your space and register, contact Anita Lisk: 355-1779, ext. 313 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Transportation not included in the cost.