In silence, God speaks. God is in the silence. About two weeks ago, I went on a Silent Retreat. Before and after the retreat, my friends Jacob, Andy (I’m not referring to myself, but another Andy) and I recorded a “podcast” If and when Jacob decides to post it, I will add it. Until then, here’s a link to his blog.
I barely have time to get around to posting and whenever I attempt to write a blog post, it seems to just catalog events without their emotions. Plus, I resolved to post at least once a month at the end of last year. In order to defeat both my lack of emotion and my inconsistency with posting, (where’s January?), I write this post. Back to the story, this was the second time I went on a Silent Retreat. The first I have mentioned in my previous post, but this time was distinct and different.
If I were to collect all that occurred in the silence, it would be too much. For the essence of simplification, my experience at the retreat can be summarized in three major ideas: humble joy, “In Your Hands”, and a call to action.
I came into the retreat seeking two things, humility and listening. The silent retreat was held at the Eagle’s Nest site of the the Eagle’s Wings Retreat Center. I have been there many times on other retreats, so I know the site well. We got there Saturday morning, had lunch talking, and then begin our “silence” with fun exercises such as puzzles and ordering of age. We then got a schedule for everything we could together for, including faith sharing campfire ,and mass, that was all optional except meals. We then prayed and we entered the full silence.
The reason why humility troubled me is I didn’t know how to be humble and still love myself. I would tear myself down just so I could I be humble, and that didn’t fit with me. I remembered some spiritual direction from Fr. Rich, I believe, that if I’m looking for humility, I should go to Mary. I walked towards the Marian Grotto on the site. I got distracted on the way by the sound of flowing water of a small stream, because I was listening. I often was distracted by the running water. Then I walked to the Marian Grotto.
There, I prayed the rosary. It was the joyful mysteries, in which I recounted all of the humbleness within the joyful people in the story. I read through the bible passages that corresponded the mysteries, finding humbleness in Mary, in Joseph, in the shepherds that visited at the Nativity, the priestess Anna after the Presentation, and in Jesus, I also recounted that I at a time in my youth, used to pray the rosary daily, and more recently I have attempted to do the same. I wrote down all the humbleness I saw in this prayer. Two lines of my reflection, I’ll share here.
Humbleness doesn’t stoop down.
Humbleness doesn’t hold back, it just gives.
I believe there I found what I call “humble joy”. Humble joy is knowing your purpose and pursuing with joy, no matter how small it may seem. It was simple. It was humble. It was humble because God is humble. That’s the humility I seeked out.
I went around many other areas of the site, including the Stations of the Cross, recalling my memory of attending it frequency since my youth, when my church Junior high (I believe) youth group would meet on Fridays after Stations of the Cross. I spent much time in the adoration chapel in Jesus’s presence, reflecting on many things throughout the retreat.
I then hiked up Meditation Mountain. At one point, I could hear the running water from the stream below. I recounted in my journal both past and current things. I decided to not go to faith-sharing to remain in the silence because I was too far up the hill. I had brought two books, “The Power of Silence” by Robert Cardinal Sarah with Nicolas Diat and “The Fourth Cup” by Scott Hahn. I have struggled with “The Power of Silence” because it is rather too deep, but “The Fourth Cup” helped me with my enthusiasm with the Eucharist, and the teaching of the meaning of the Fourth Cup in the Passover, which happens when Jesus’s Crucifixion occurs.
In Your Hands
After dinner, and some more time in the chapel and around the site, there was a campfire. The retreatants gathered around a campfire in silence, staring at the fire. In watching the fire, I heard this song, “In Your Hands” by Christy Nockels, in my head, but I didn’t know it well. All of focus went to me not controlling the fire. I thought of the fire as the Holy Spirit. I also thought of it as the Mystical Body of Christ, like I have before in my talk. I kept placing it In God’s Hands.” Your, referring to God. I try to control the Holy Spirit and want to do build the Body of Christ, but I needed to let go. I needed to place it God’s hands.
I ironically was the last one at the fire, and I had to put it out. I knew it a little from when a friend of mine who was managing the fire grazed me earlier. I was hesitant as it also meant the fire was in my hands, but I gave it to God and prayed as much as I could. The fire was smothered by the water, from embers to ashes.
A Call to Action
In the morning, I tried to get the sunrise, but it was cloudy. I was lucky enough to get a little sun. Then, I went to mass with the group.. We spoke and sang during the mass as is proper, but kept the idea of the silence of God and the reflection of the community. During the retreat, I also thought of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, a .passage and a reflection done at the end of the Silent Retreat. In this we count of time for the retreat similar to the times recounted in the passage. I thought of a time to end. Not to end my life, but rather than I will be ending my schooling and my future will begin. This is not from the actual passage, but helps me process my future. With some help from “The Power of Silence” I found a call for action. In the morning, I found out I was a “humble joy.” My call is to be that quiet humble joyful person. My autism made me humble and joyful. I think of my older brother where his joy spreads in his movements and his simpleness. I want to keep my quietness, joy and humility in my future as a civil engineer.
I know my future will be different, but I still want to be a “humble joy”. I found that in the silence my call to action in God’s hands is to be a “humble joy.” .I’m grateful for it and the many blessings it gave me. I thanked my time in the Marian Grotto. After a short time revisiting the Grotto, I finished with some more time in the adoration chapel, with another rosary there. I was so thankful for the experience. When the group had resumed talking, we shared our experiences and took a few group pictures, which I didn’t smile for some reason. We ate lunch, packed up and went home.
I am grateful for this experience, and I’m glad that I saw this little joy before the rush of school work and life that accompanies me now. Reflecting on it reminds me of being a humble joy in God’s hands as a call to action. I found the humility and I listened to God. Thanks to God for all the blessings I have.
The Nerd of May