I have been thinking that I need a retreat from the world. With the grief that’s accompanied my dad’s passing, my worries about my husband’s health decline, and my general malaise with the current leadership in these United States, I need a break. The long, cold Northeastern winter does not help.
A fantastic think piece this week in the Wall Street Journal about Tapping Into the Sound of Silence by Anne Kadet who took a silent retreat within the framework of her own day-to-day life, got me thinking, ‘Hey, I don’t have to actually do any big whoop to retreat. I can simply turn down the volume.’
Incidentally, since getting hearing aids, I can literally turn down the volume. During the school day as I help to monitor middle school lunches, this turning-it-down feature really benefits me in the noisy dining hall. I can still hear boys’ conversations near me, but I don’t have to take in the whole big din. The dining hall becomes a bit more civilized when it’s not so loud.
When we get silent, there is a “freedom from self-preoccupation,” according to Richard Rohr. His message popped up in today’s emails. It is as if the world is trying to tell me something.
When we recognize something as beautiful, that knowledge partly emerges from the silence around it. It may be why we are quiet in art galleries and symphony halls. If something is not surrounded by the vastness of silence and space, it is hard to appreciate it as singular and beautiful. If it is all mixed in with everything else, then its particularity does not stand out.Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation
From the Center for Action and Contemplation
To get quiet, one needs to focus, to control the kneejerk reaction to respond to every stimulus — whether it’s the red flashing breaking news update or the ping of a new email hitting the inbox.
The reward for this focus, this silence, this mindfulness, this absence, is the gift of noticing the world around you — be it the beauty of this winter season or the humor of children.
I know that I can be a little chatty. I love to joke around with my coworkers and family. But by freeing myself from the need to make noise, I am giving myself the gift of focusing more deeply on the natural world and on the people in my world. I am opening myself to all that is beautiful. I love to look at art and appreciate the specificity of words.
I’m tuning out, but not to drop out; my purpose is to drop in, go deeper, take time, listen better. Create a silent retreat right where I am.
Join me on the winter writing retreat where we will spend time in silence, in looking at art, and in noisy meal times.