“There is a mysterious attraction to interior silence in the depth of our beings. The attraction is like amagnet that draws us to silence.” Thomas Keating.
The high point for Geri and I during our Sabbatical was a 10 day Post Intensive Prayer Retreat at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado. We had dinner with a group of 23 people, introduced ourselves, and then entered the Grand Silence, one that would last the next 9 days. No talking. No eye contact. Geri and I had just spent a week in the desert of Colorado but this total immersion began to break something up in me that I am still not sure I can describe. It remains a bit inexplicable.
Jesus told Peter: “When you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go” (Jn.21:18). To be happy most of us seek: 1) money and security; 2) validation and approval; and 3) control and power. These are the classic temptations in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11). I have preached them. Yet this silence opened up new levels in my interior, new levels of what it means for me “let go” and surrender to the will of Jesus. The silence exposed my attachments to security and control in particular. And the silence actually cut some of their chains.
One of the retreat directors suggested to me that “divine dismemberment” might describe my inner turmoil the first few days. He was right. God gave me a gift in the silence. There was also a gift from Him in the four hours a day we spent together in Centering Prayer. I can’t quite describe it. What I do know that silence caused the Word of God to come alive in incalculable, profound ways. I am in my second week at New Life in noisy Queens, NYC. Something has shifted for me internally. Will the seeds remain and blossom? Will the pressure of the leadership, life, and my “to do” list smother this new, strange work of God in me? I pray not. What do you do to keep the seeds God has planted inside of you alive?