A Weekend of Silence?!

About 17 years ago, my son was an official member of the Brigade of Midshipmen at Annapolis, and I was officially an empty nester.  My friends, in an attempt to keep me busy and sane(!), invited me to every Gala and Catholic event in the greater New York area.  When one of them suggested a retreat, I quickly thought, ‘Yikes! Hello, brain, I need an exit strategy, and fast!!’  My brain, however, chose that moment to take a nap, and in that nanosecond of hesitation, I was trapped!  ‘A retreat?? That’s for high school kids and old church ladies … isn’t it?’  Immediately they all started talking at once to convince me that this would be wonderful.  But in the midst of it all, I heard a word that made my blood run cold; the word was ‘SILENT’.  A SILENT RETREAT???? AN ENTIRE WEEKEND WITHOUT TALKING?????  Now I knew they were certifiably insane and with or without my brain’s assistance, I was finished with this crazy discussion!

And yet, somehow (I believe I may have been drugged and kidnapped!), I found myself at lovely Our Lady of Mt. Kisco for a weekend retreat …. a weekend of silence.

We did have some time for socialization when we arrived, and everyone was genuinely lovely.  There was a delicate charity that seemed to permeate the relationship of the Regnum Christi ladies who were facilitating the retreat; their graciousness put me at ease with an unanticipated sense of peace; I relaxed and entered into the retreat.

Never one to take notes in school, I found myself scribbling every word of Father’s reflections!  Wow!  The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola are time tested (500 years and still going!) and a true gift from the Holy Spirit, enabling a person to disconnect from the noise and enter into a journey of deep connection with Our Lord.  It’s an encapsulated meditation of salvation history, yes, but in a deeply personal way.  I was even guided in how to formulate a ‘Program of Life’ so that I could hold myself accountable to the resolutions I made during those special days.

And the silence?  Ironically, the thing which had most repelled me was the most exquisite gift of all!  It was in the silence that I found and heard Our Lord.  It was in the silence that I found and heard myself … my truest self … again.  It brought me back to my conversion nearly 20 years before when I first truly found God, and realized that in finding Him, I had somehow found myself too.  But time had blurred that a bit, not radically, but He wanted to take me deeper, so now we were being ‘reintroduced’, if you will, and my heart delighted in it!  My heart was at rest and has been ever since.   In fact, I so love silent retreats that I continue to attend them (including a couple of 30-day retreats!) and have even facilitated many because it is a true joy to share this precious blessing with others.

Another gift of the weekend was also a fruit of the silence.  In the silence of the daily routine, there was a sweet tenderness that formed between all of the ladies on the retreat.  A gentle smile or nod touched the heart, and we entered into a unique bond with one another.  Amazingly, to this day, some of those very ladies are some of my most cherished friends; over the years we have laughed and cried with each other and have become true sisters!

So many gifts, and after so much resistance!!  It’s said that ‘when God asks something of us, it’s because He wants to give us something… How very true!

Check out these upcoming weekend retreats in NY and CT: Spiritual Exercises for women and Spiritual Exercises for men  

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