Sunday, November 11, 2012
Yes--deep silence and bushwhacking up a mountain side were both part of my 8-day silent retreat at St. Benedict's Monastery in Old Snowmass, CO. This particular silent retreat asked that, after the opening gathering, participants not make eye contact or speak. During meals we motioned for various dishes, and I became accustomed to looking down--or when seated in the retreat house living area, looking over the heads of others to the mountains visible from the large windows.
Mt. Sopris is the large mountain (pictured above) visible from the back windows of the retreat house where the room I shared with my 80-year-old centering prayer friend from Estes Park was located. From the hillside above the retreat house, the mountains of the ski resort, Snowmass, are also visible. The destination at the top of the steep incline we hiked/bushwhacked to is called "Bernie's Rock," named for a deceased monk resident of the monastery.
The silence when meditating with 25 others in a large circle in the retreat house chapel was enfolding--except when the chatter in my head made it otherwise. We sat with our meditation practice, centering prayer, for three and one-half hours per day, broken into three periods of silence, beginning at 5:45 am.
Silence--Comforting?? Peaceful?? Energizing?? Revealing?? It can be and was all of those. There would be very few participants if most of those twenty plus hours of meditation revealed our blocks and shadow sides. I would also have felt it to be a less valuable retreat had I not had an insight or two that continued to percolate after returning home.
My long-time quest was present this time--a deeper knowing of God's love for me, mistakes, stumbles, hurts and all. With valuable coaching from a long-time staff member, I began to get more deeply God's love for me. With a clearer knowledge of Divine love, I believe/feel myself to be more lovable. No it doesn't make me more lovable. It makes me more aware and able to pass God's love through me to others without a feeling of depletion. It continues to work within me. Sometimes I'm sad that it has taken me so long to reach this point of feeling truly valued by God. More times I'm grateful.
Seeing what parts of me I've protected--and hence protected them from God's healing love is freeing. It also grieves me that the girl who fought hard and stood against the violence in my adolescence is the one I've felt I needed so much that I haven't considered that protecting that piece of me was also protecting against Divine love. It protects against human love getting through too.
The Journey continues. Blessings are many. Deep insights bubble to the top. I'm grateful for the silence and for the time spent in glorious beauty (even in the dormant season before snow covers the brown).
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
PS: Stay tuned for recounting of Bernie's rock slough and Fr. Thomas Keating's talk at the retreat.