Friday, April 09, 2010

I have entered the depths

It was a steamy 91 F when I drove through the gates of the old Jesuit novitiate at Wernersville this afternoon. Now I'm sitting in the dark on the cool marble floor of the east cloister letting the cool breezes and the silence wash over me.

There is a bug on my virtual keyboard, attracted no doubt by the light of my electronic gadget. I elected not to turn on the lights when I came out here, so I'm playing the flame to every moth in the neighborhood.

There are a few others here on retreat beside me, but they are mostly of the silent and still sort. Even so there is one gentleman who I encountered on my walk, headed for the gate at a near run, rosary beads flying while his prayers bobbed behind in his wake.

I went for a walk after dinner and before seeing my confessor. As I walked along the road down toward the small creek that bounds the property I enjoyed the touches of hot and cool air that swirled around me. Much like the mix of emotions that I drove through the gate with, they were hard to sort out, coming and going almost too quickly to identify. That said, I feel like I've waded into a deep still pool. The silence seems extraordinarily deep this visit, though I couldn't tell you why.

There are a mix of retreatants here, some keeping silence, others not. Several have on a large name tag marking them as SILENT. I don't have one, and wonder if I would even want one. The silence I seek is somehow an interior one, and the silence here and my own commitment to seek it seems sufficient at the moment to further my interior journey to the still point. I brought along Marty Laird OSA's book Into the Silent Land. I enjoy the swirls of elegant prose and frank language. Somehow it makes the text feel more real, more like advice from a good spiritual director, one who is clearly and comfortably grounded in his or her own prayer life.
"This is why most people don't stick with a contemplative discipline for very long; we have all heard all sorts of talk about contemplation bringing inner peace but when we turn within to seek this peace, we meet inner chaos instead of peace. But at this point it is precisely the meeting of chaos that is salutary, not snorting of lines of euphoric peace."


  1. I have just read/am reading Into the Silent Land! _-- recommended to me a couple of weeks ago by HJG. It has an excellent chapter on meeting pain in stillness.

  2. What a great quote! Makes me think I should keep an eye out for the book, especially with Robin's endorsement as well.

  3. contemplating a silence badge for some of my students

  4. I'm feeling the pull of the Monastery near my home. Just wanting to bask in some stillness....

    Visitation last night was long, and seemed to me to be a grueling effort on the part of the family. Yes, lots of love and an outpouring of comfort but it was 3 1/2 hours of standing followed by a beautiful Rosary.

    Today is the funeral.

    Just touching in for the comfort.