Silence is but one of the many spiritual tools that we can use to draw near to the heart of God. This summer, it was my joy and great privilege to join the Chemin Neuf community in Tigéry, France for a 30 day silent retreat using the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius. While the retreat was challenging on many fronts as I sought to rededicate myself more fully to God’s service, the silence was not! It was a gift inside of which I was able to hear God’s deep love for me and for the world.
While the 35 retreatants were silent in terms of talking to others, we were not idle! Each day we worshipped as a community in the morning (lauds), at mid-day (communi0n), and often in the evening. We were guided by a team who taught on the Ignatian exercises each morning and afternoon. In between, we had four periods of personal Scripture study and meditation (45-60 minutes each), various chores (I set the table for the evening meal the first two weeks and helped prepare dinner the third and fourth weeks), an hour of work each afternoon (I joined the garden crew) and “household care” (along with two others, we kept the chapel area clean). My favorite half hour of the day (and not just because I got to speak!!!) was meeting with my spiritual “accompanateur” to discuss what God was communicating with me as I studied, prayed, and worshipped. While the schedule was a bit rigorous for my sensibilities, I did find time each day after lunch and dinner to prayerfully walk around the grounds.
I am deeply grateful to my many friends who faithfully prayed for me during my retreat. I long to share with you the fruit of the 30 days, but I still find it hard to put words to my experiences! Until they come, let me share through brief sentences and images a few of the many, many gifts that I received from God.
A sense of “enough.”
A recommitment to living the rest of my life as a servant of Christ.
A deep sense of our Creator’s delight in me and all creation.
A call to “integrate everything” as I seek to minister.
The delight in prayerfully affirming “Thy will be done.” throughout each day and night.
An deeper understanding that suffering, whether my own, or those with whom God allows me to be present, links me to Christ’s experience in this world and God’s love for us.
A profound longing to see Christ in others, creation, and myself so that I may express the beauty of God in ways that inspire and call forth faith.
Thank you for your patience and prayers as God grows in me the many seeds of faith, hope and love that were planted during this silent retreat!