Sunday, January 08, 2006

Emerging Retreat Thoughts

In her book Walking On Water, Madeleine L'Engle says this:
"That old iceberg analogy has become blunted from overuse and nearly destroyed by jargon, but it's still true: our conscious minds are indeed only the tiny tip of the iceberg which is above the water, and the largest part of ourselves is unseen below the water, below the conscious level, and it is not easy to admit to this, to admit it and not fear that large part of ourselves over which we have very little control, but in which lies enormous freedom, and the world of poetry, music and the region of that deepest and truest prayer which is beyond all our feeble and faltering words. We need the prayers of words, yes; the words are the path to contemplation; but the deepest communion with God is beyond words, on the other side of silence."

In a few days, I'll be taking my very first stab at a directed 3 day silent retreat. This is a "suggested requirement" for the spiritual formation class I'm taking at Marywood. It's also something I've meant to do for a long time but haven't ever exactly done. I've spent a great deal of time alone before, but I've never done a directed silent retreat. I'll go to the Marywood center, check into my room and spend 3 days virtually alone. I will meet with my spiritual director (The Oracle) for one hour each day, but other than that I will not talk with anyone or watch TV or listen to the radio, or busy myself or be around people. The timing of this is interesting to me, since I feel I've already had 2 weeks of quiet and of doing very little. But I know that is not exactly the same thing.

Dallas Willard says this about Solitude (on this website):
"There is nothing that requires more energy of the typical American Christian than the discipline of doing nothing. The hardest thing you can get anyone to do is to do nothing. We are addicted to our world, addicted to talk. Talk is the primary way we have of managing our image for ourselves and for others. You may have a perfectly intelligent person who is alone and, when they do something stupid, they will talk to themselves and explain to themselves why they did that. Believe it or not, controlling our tongue is very important. James said that "anyone who can control their tongue is perfect." How do you control it? You get it to stop. You discover that you can breathe without talking. You discover that life goes on.
The issue is the same with solitude. The problem with solitude is not being alone, it is convincing ourselves that we are unnecessary, that the world will not collapse if we go away. Solitude is the discipline of letting go of our self-importance, letting go of our belief that we are necessary for the world to continue."

I've been alone lots lately, and very quiet, but I realize getting away from my normal distractions will have value. I'm a little nervous about it to be honest, where usually I would very much look forward to something like this. Sometimes I crave time alone, but lately, I've had plenty of it, and I wonder if I'll get bored. ::GASP! the HORROR!:: And maybe I'm not excited about not having distractions, the ability to avoid the noise I create in my own head. I'm not sure, but for whatever reason I sense in myself a little anxiety, but I also think that the way to the bottom of the iceberg is to submerge and explore, in that place where words have little meaning.


  • wow, no email or blogs?? no surfing the web? Or can you do that?....can you do knitting or something....Just trying to get my brain around it all meditation?....I could use 3 days away.... ha ha

    By Blogger studiobeerhorst, at 1/08/2006 2:40 PM  

  • oh ya, I forgot that part. No PC. No blogging or email. I am taking a small project to work on that doesn't require a lot of thinking, just small handwork. I'll take my journal and a small amount of reading, but that's all for now. I know, I'll be 3 days away sounds like heaven to you! :o)

    By Blogger Captainwow, at 1/08/2006 3:01 PM  

  • May you be blessed and find your spirit soaring!

    By Blogger Running2Ks, at 1/09/2006 1:38 PM  

  • ginny gin.
    i'll be thinking about you. if you need something illegal (like a beer or a cd) just call me and i will either talk you out of it or drive down there and throw you up the goodies. it'll be a scene from "girls just wanna have fun."

    By Anonymous kmoore, at 1/10/2006 12:53 PM  

  • I've been considering doing this myself. I'm ususally fairly quiet, and do not mind solitude, but lately I have been wondering if I could stand the silence, whether I would be able to remain attentive in the silence. I'll be interested in hearing how it goes.

    By Blogger annie, at 1/10/2006 9:14 PM  

  • Oh, I envy you and will be all ears to hear how it went. Is it an Ignatian retreat? I want to go on one of those one day. I read not too long ago one man's account of doing the 30 day retreat. Scares the crap out of me just what God might end up saying to me on one of those though.

    I've just had 3 days of complete solitude at home....the quiet is so good and necessary.

    Thank you for your kind words on my blog....I needed to know I wasn't alone in the struggle, thank you for gifting me with your words.

    By Blogger Hope, at 1/10/2006 9:30 PM  

  • I have to admit that my first thought was to wonder what you did bad to deserve this!
    Sounds like you're doing it on purpose, though, so enjoy!

    By Anonymous peripateticpolarbear, at 1/13/2006 11:34 PM  

  • Can't wait to hear about this!

    By Blogger Running2Ks, at 1/16/2006 1:18 PM  

  • Though I have not participated in this type of exercise for a long time, I suspect that for you it will be a bit like fasting. The first days of a fast are hardest, but then it becomes quite clarifying and natural. I hope that your transitional hours will cede to the depth of silence without too much struggle.

    By Blogger little david, at 1/16/2006 10:13 PM  

  • Ah.....the last bastion of peace and quiet before baby comes too. You will like it....once you get your brain turned down a few decibels.....I wish you a peaceful retreat.......

    By Blogger Ayekah, at 1/16/2006 11:41 PM  

  • Interesting! This sounds like such a calm, comforting thing to do. Good luck!

    By Blogger SpookyRach, at 1/17/2006 12:56 PM  

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