The Sounds of Silence

–The Friday traffic seemed worse in the rain. And I left home late, rushing as usual. This time because my 7 yr. old son recovered from the flu and didn’t want me to leave. I got to my destination just 10 minutes late, but I guess everyone else also battled the road congestion because there were only a few people there when I made it through the door. I signed in, got a schedule, some booklets, and I walked towards my dorm-style room. They informed me that we would all meet for dinner in about 30 minutes. I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that I needed this. That since Harvey, I’d had little moments of silence, and I felt God calling me to just be still and listen to his voice. To go to the desert. To leave everything and follow him. Would I be able to make it in this silent retreat? It seemed like a daunting challenge, but I was ready to shut my mouth and swing my heart and soul wide open.

We were able to talk during dinner, and we introduced ourselves afterwards in our groups. After that… no more talking until Sunday! In total, it was friday night, all day saturday and sunday until noon that we were to be silent. Why silence? What happens in the silence? As St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote:

He who has the word of Jesus can truly listen also to his silence, in order to be perfect, that he may act through his speech and be known by his silence.

Regnum Christi organized this retreat for women. About 40 of us attended. What happened during this silence has changed me, and indeed opened me to be more attentive to God’s whispers, telling me what he wants from me.

We had meditations, stations of the cross, confession and spiritual guidance. No more could have been squeezed in, yet it didn’t feel overwhelming. The invitation to walk closer to the truth came lovingly and with tremendous support from the Legionaries and Consecrated Women who led us and invited us to lean in to Jesus.

What did I hear in this brilliant silence?

  1. I was afraid I wouldn’t hear a thing. That my anxiety would beat me down, and my internal dialogue would be dizzying and unstoppable. But instead, what I heard in my head continuously that first night and following morning was that song “Jesus is calling out my name”. Really? Are you calling me?
  2. Then, as we sat in the chapel, looking at our Mother of Perpetual Help, I asked unconsciously “What do you want from me?”, and I clearly heard in my mind: “Everything”.
  3. Next, while silently praying the rosary, and looking at the painting of baby Jesus in Mary’s arms, with his little sandal hanging off his foot, I heard “Let go”! And tears fell unwillingly. If I could only let go of all these fears that hold me down. About not being good enough, not knowing what to do about anything in my life right now. If I could just let go of the crushing anxiety. Of the doubts and worries. And yet that’s what God was asking me to do: LET GO.

When the retreat ended, armed with strength and confidence with my three messages, I approached the priest who had spoken to us daily, for hours, and stirred in me such a need to do God’s will. Finally, I could talk. I asked him how I could stop worrying about the future, the madness that goes on in my head. And he gave me a book: “God Alone Suffices”. It’s a short book, but heavy with messages and deep wisdom. I consumed every word. Now to put into action the inspiration that we hear in God’s silence. Thank you Lord! You truly are all that matters.

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