Day 106- The Silent Retreat Mile

Photography courtesy of Kim Stalker ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

“They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.” Acts 2:42

Our numbers differ. Our time differs in which we see the light. One of my brethren at onthepilgrimroad, Phillip, mentioned that our time is designed by God. Now he may have not said it exactly in that way, but he did tell me that day that one- hundred- and- six may not in fact be God’s day one -hundred -and- six for me, but that I should keep at it, keep going, and he was right.

Enter the silent retreat.

Kicking and screaming I went but gently into God’a arms. Where are you taking me? Where are we going? Is it enough that you have removed me from everywhere I have loved? And then I remembered, it was to bring me to the place He needed me; to the next place He had placed on the landscape of time.

Our time differs from God’s. A trek of three -hundred -and -sixty- five days may take us a thousand days. We go at His pace and in His timing, sometimes at lightning speed and other times at a snail’s pace. But we keep striving, keep reaching towards that light, that aching, that wanting in our souls. When we have no peace, it is a sign to dig deep, it is a message to seek God. God is only peace, not a false sense, but a constant. And if this peace is gone, than this is our awakening, our call that something is not right on the inside.

I heard this call to silence, and I began scrambling. I fell off a cliff in my initial descent, plunging, screaming, arms wide and chaotic, crying out to God, can’t you see I’m falling! This is the initial descent of the soul.

It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God

When I was done plunging, I heard His voice echo in my soul. He was sitting right beside me. He asked me to give away everything I was scrambling about, all of it. The people and places. The worries and cares. All of it. And so I did. I gave my property and possessions away to Him and asked Him to divide them among all who were in need, all according to each one’s need. I asked Him to bless that.  Then I would be free. Then I could devote myself to Him, be fully embraced by Him, fall deeper into His arms. I could rejoice with Him and cry tears of joy for my freedom. Now that I gave everything away, I was truly free.

The way was clear. No cloudiness, but only openness of soul. My loud cries, my external prayer had turned itself on the inside, like a baby ready to find its way out into the world. All else faded away except the song in my soul, the freedom and the god man sitting next to me. I repented for holding on to all of these earthly things and asked His forgiveness. He touched my head, than my hands with a smile.

Now you understand my child…

He said He knew me before I was born. That He formed me in my mother’s womb. That He dedicated me as a prophet to the nations, appointed me. That this promise of His did not change. That He and the promise had stayed constant, that all of the other stars pointed me to this very moment. Oh, how my soul sang!

This is what you long for. You long for community. You long for me. You long for the center, which is the Eucharist and the people that surround it. You long for my plan and for my purpose for you. But in all these things my precious child, long for me first. Want me first. Seek me first, and all these things shall be added unto you. My will is not apart from me, it is a part of me. 

And so I sat there, as the minutes flew by my tears flew too. I was no longer defined by anything, but by Him, my great Master. I will only be what He wants me to be, what He designed me to be, and give that all away to the community to which he will bring me. And by the giving away of self in the silence came the sureness of self, the answer to prayer, the song in my soul.

He gave me everything

I am no longer afraid. I am ready for Day 2, which took me one hundred and six days to get there.

Thank you Phillip.

 

Cloistered Words

It took several hours for me to find silence. At first I chased it, then shunned it, then cried over it. I had been led into the desert by the Holy Spirit and tasked to give up time- but very specific time. The time I spend in indulgence on platforms like You Tube watching silly videos or other such things that lead my mind to numbness. And although on first blush one might think that I was being to hard on myself, if you look deeper you can find the root of God’s request. When we substitute one thing for another to numb the pain or busyness of life, it is not holy, it is tragedy.

In my “day” job, I live as an attorney representing a major metropolitan police department. I am involved on a larger scale in our county on issues that effect millions of people- school shootings, the role of school resource officers and the taking of guns from people who are not in a place to have them. I look at horrible pictures, write laws and make decisions for people who are not equipped to make them for themselves. I have been operating within the confines of the criminal justice system for the past almost twenty years.

And so when I yearn for a break, for decompression, for peace, it is hard to simply “sit” in silence. The echoes of war ring deep in my soul. I think of guns, dying and the battlefield that my police officers live on daily. I worry about them, I pray for them, and I pray for myself. But most days, I cannot seem to simply let go…

So God asked me to fill my “quiet” time with all things Him, not to use escapes to deal with pain or to allow my mind to simply wander. And I attempted this for the first time on Day 4 of Lent, as days 1-3 were so busy at work and home I practically fell asleep in my clothes. After God cleared my calendar yesterday and I vehemently objected, I was left with nothing but myself… and Him.

And so I heeded His call. I found myself immersed in a documentary called “Chosen, ” a behind the scenes look at life as a cloistered nun behind the sacred walls of a monastery. The subtitle of the film, “Custody of the Eyes.”

The film was breathtaking and deeply disturbing all at the same time. But the disturbance was in my soul. I longed to be locked up with them even if only for  a short period of time. I adored their habit, simplicity and love for our Lord. I felt interrupted and challenged, questioning myself and my vocation, thinking about all of the time I had wasted not focused on the eyes of Jesus. I wanted my house to be a convent, a reflection of Him and His love for humanity.

One hour and 44 minutes is a long time to spend in a monastery, and I didn’t ever want it to end. I thought about their rules, expectations and order and I craved that. I have always had a profound respect and love for nuns since I was a small child. Maybe it was me gazing into my future entry into beloved Mother Church…

But I came out on the other end changed, wanting, needing…more. I felt alive in the silence of their monastery walls. I wanted to rid myself of idleness, of cheap substitutes and distractions. Because time is limited. Because it all should belong to God.

You can read more about “Chosen” here

I encourage you to watch it this Lent. For those at parishes that have the app “Formed” it can be found on there.