This past weekend, I had the extreme pleasure of going on a silent retreat.
About the time I left for college, my mom started a non-profit for women called Women at the Well. One of the many gifts WATW gave to women was the offering of silent retreats – a time for women to get away from the chaos of life and spend some uninterrupted time
So, because of the example I had through my mom, I have come to highly value these silent retreats.
For me, the secret to a meaningful silent retreat is to not enter into it with any agenda. I have found that when I go into a silent retreat with a list of areas of my life that I want God to speak into (aka SOLVE), I find that my time not only becomes results-oriented, I am literally challenging God to PERFORM within the time I have allotted to HIM to do so! Yikes! And let me say from experience – the only result that comes from that for me has been sheer disappointment.
I found myself praying a lot during my silent retreat. There are many people in my life right now whose pain and grief runs so, so deep. So deep. Overwhelmingly so.
Sometimes my prayers came in the form of eyes closed, head bent, hands interlocked, tears flowing.
Sometimes, my prayers came in the form of walking on a trail, observing the beauty of the nature around me.
Sometimes my prayers came in the form of a heated dialogue, gestations, harshness, frustration.
Before I left on the retreat, I came across this quote by one of my favorite authors, Henry J. M. Nouwen. He writes::
“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen
And then, while retreating, I read this from The Message, Psalm 145, vs. 8-9::