The Gift of Silence and Solitude
Last week John and I joined a small group of people for a silence and solitude retreat at the beautiful grounds of Saint Andrews Abbey in Valyermo CA. This was a first time experience for John….and a new location for Shevawn. Our group spent 22 hours together in silence, ending with a time when we got together to share and pray for each other. It was wonderful….and rejuvenating….and so beautiful! John took a few photos and I’ve added them to some from their website in hopes they will convey how quiet and peaceful it was there.
My (Shevawn’s) first experience at a monastery came at the advice of a friend shortly after we moved to Huntington Beach. I think I only went for a day….much like this time; since then I have visited several monasteries for different lengths of time, with and without companions. Every time I go, I wonder why I have waited so long between visits. Although it took me years to learn how much I needed silence and solitude, I have since embraced it as an important part of my spiritual practices; without it, I cannot maintain my spiritual center. I get going so fast, stuck in fourth or fifth gear and unable to decelerate my life…my mind….until. UNTIL I spend a day with just me and the Lord, quietly listening…which shifts me into neutral where I can regain my perspective and hear the Holy Spirit’s voice more clearly. Sometime it’s more about just BEING with God than hearing from God….and that’s OK. No matter what the actual experience is like, afterwards I am able to come back and be where I should be again; going forward, being and doing what God has created me to be, only in the sanity of first or second gear.
Does this last forever? No…life happens and gradually I find myself racing again. But I have learned what I need to do….or rather, what I need to not do…in order to experience God’s peace and presence more fully in my life again. I am so thankful for Benedictine monasteries and the spiritual atmosphere they graciously share with others….and for the timing of this retreat so that John could experience this shortly before he leaves for Benin.