Years ago i officiated a wedding in the midst of what was once a convent. The outdoor chapel, surrounded by stones placed just so and willowed arches allowed the birds voices front and center, even above the vows. Along with interior great halls of this hundred year old building, celebrated in fine mahogany woods, deep and wide walk into fireplaces and glorious still shining floors that told stories; I was deeply and divinely fed. As the post ceremony celebration began, my heart sang as i alone stood against the winding stone wall surrounding the massive out door flagstone patio – overlooking a duck pond, sloping terrain and trees as old as my soul; hence, New England at its very best. I was imagining how i must have once lived here, in one of my previous lives as a nun, being in service, opening hearts and wounds to Gods love, sustaining the energies of grace for the community – along with 50 or so of my fellow devotees. We would have lived in silence, scrubbing the hand laid floors, preparing meals from the gardens, praying, being, singing, guiding. I was gloriously in joy of my private dreams ……..as the six foot four inch towering father of the bride appeared beside me, in his boisterous and very Irish voice; “My God, this quiet would drive me nuts, i can’t stand it…….what about you?”
Dennis Patrick Slattery, in Grace in the Desert, touches on and then dives with humble abandonment with all senses; into ones quest for freedom from imprisonment of our wounds. He shares his own quest, seeking silence to stop the gerbil wheel of a too busy and constantly moving lifestyle. What truly happened was his relationship with his own wounds were discovered, revealed, unearthed…..in the midst of the silence of the woods and monasteries.
He eloquently shares page after page of his heart journey. In one monastery library, where silence was prevailing, a man entered who held a transistor radio to his ear the entire time. Even in the midst of free will to enter the quiet, one will protect ones heart with outer noise.
I have a pet peeve. Folks who say they are on retreat, but posts selfies, text and use phones and other social media gadgets to commune with the outside world. These gadgets should not be with you; period. Leave phones in the car or back pack; available for required emergency use if you are stranded, but not to call home and create exterior connections.(Good, i have said it, i feel better!)
Until we have met our own wounds, silence is not our friend. And yet, we must be in the silence to hear them clearly, to meet them, to forgive, to love them free, to let go of the hold we allow them to grip us with. It is in the silence where we meet ourselves, our hearts, our stories, our self. It is also in the silence where we meet God, the Supreme Beingness.
I highly recommend Grace in the Desert. https://www.amazon.com/Grace-Desert-Awakening-Gifts-Monastic/dp/0787971049 Incredibly profound, written as a mystic, especially good for men, written as a memoir, awesome for those brought up in an alcoholic homes, beneficial for any devout seeker. Each sentence a quote, each page illuminating.
shared with great love,
Deborah Evans Hogan