I love the sound of a house full of kids. (Well, most of the time, anyway!) As my children neared adulthood, I wondered how I’d handle the echoing silence of an empty nest.
Perhaps “wondered” is too mild a word. I feared the silence. I was mourning the end of my active parenting years, to be sure, but the truth was that my dread was deeply rooted in some painful early experiences with loneliness. That loneliness resulted in unwelcome, unwanted silence. I honesty didn’t believe there could be any other kind of silence.
During this time, I had the opportunity to go on my first guided, mostly-silent retreat. I was simultaneously introduced to the delight of extended meditation on a single passage of Scripture. As I embraced the spiritual discipline of solitude, God brought me face-to-face with some of the familiar old hurts that had previously motivated me to avoid silence at all costs. I discovered that silence does not equal loneliness. It can be rich with God’s presence.
The psalmist sang these familiar words from the heart of God to each of us used to tuning our lives to the cacophony around us: “Be still, and know that I am God!” (Ps. 46:10) To paraphrase His imperative invitation: “Shhh…come, listen to the quiet so you can more fully experience and respond to who He is.”
Over the last few weeks, several people in my life have remarked that they’d welcome an opportunity to participate in a “mostly silent” retreat. As a result, I’d like to know if there are others living in the Chicago-Milwaukee area interested in gathering for a “Listen to the Quiet” 24-hour retreat either February 26-27 or March 5-6, 2010. Location (probably at a retreat space somewhere in S.E. Wisconsin) is yet to be determined. Cost including 3 meals, will likely run in the $60-70 range. A “mostly silent” retreat means there will be time at the beginning and end for prayer, worship and fellowship, but that the core of your time will be spent in silence shaped by a bit of devotional instruction on how to enter into your time of quiet with the Lord.
If you’re interested in participating in the “Listen to the Quiet” retreat – or simply knowing more as plans are finalized – please e-mail me (email@example.com) no later than Saturday, November 14.
Your opportunity to win!
This fall, two different projects to which I contributed have released. The first is a gift devotional for women entitled Quiet Reflections of Hope (Baker/Revell). This simple, thoughtful volume offers busy women a bit of focused time with the Lord each morning. The second is the beautiful Holy Bible: Mosaic (Tyndale). This gorgeous Bible offers writings and artwork from believers from every century and continent. You can read more about this Bible here.
I’d like to send one reader two copies of Quiet Reflections of Hope, and one reader two copies of Holy Bible: Mosaic. Each winner will have one volume to keep and one to share with a friend. (Or, if you’re feeling especially generous, two copies to give away!) Simply e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org before Saturday, November 14 with the subject line “Drawing”. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail.