"What a luxury!" a friend said to me when she heard I was going on a silent retreat.
"I've discovered a silent retreat is not a luxury, it's a necessity!" I replied. She had no idea how serious I was about my need for silence.
At the beginning of July, my body was letting me know I needed a pause--irritability & a short fuse, quick to tears, constant tiredness, feelings of overload & overwhelm, etc. My spouse was letting me know he needed a pause given how his own emotional and physical weariness had intensified by the loss of his father earlier this year. My kids were letting me know they needed a pause to recover from the pressure of school & sports schedules as well as a very active June.
Looking at our July schedule, we decided the planned family vacation to Seattle was not a wise idea. It was full of activity rather than rest. And even though we had been looking forward to it for a long time, we would not push through, instead we would pause.
While it was to look differently for each of us, all of us needed silence and solitude.
Russ went to Missouri to stay at his dad's house by himself then I went to Sacred Heart Monastery in Cullman, Alabama (pictured above) for a private silent retreat. And the kids spent time inside and outside their rooms, painting and playing driveway basketball, allowing for some slow summer days at home.
A pause offered us space to grieve and breathe.
A pause also helped us see! "When your eyes are tired, the world is tired also," begins poet David Whyte in "Sweet Darkness" from The House of Belonging.
When tired, I need to rest my own eyes so I can see the world differently. Of course this is both literal and metaphorical!
At Sacred Heart, I needed to literally sleep and have large chunks of time with nothing to do but rest and remember. A sacred pause often looks so ordinary! Here's what mine looked like:
Did it solve all of my problems? No, but it gave me needed insight.
It helped me see myself, my work, spouse, kids, and world in a new (or renewed) light.
I was reminded that I am not and never will be superwoman. I was also reminded that I have the strength to establish or return to some much-needed boundaries. And my time away affirmed how much I need regular time away! My family, friends, and co-workers would agree! ______________________________________________
What are your indicators that you need a pause? Is there anything you need to pause, postpone, or plan differently?
You don't have to go anywhere but sometimes it's good to get away. Even Jesus invited his disciples to "Come away all by yourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile." (Mark 6:31)
As his disciples experienced, life can get to be too much sometimes so silence & solitude are a necessity! So whether or not you join me for Centering Prayer or the 4-day silent retreat at Sacred Heart Monastery in October, may you, too, allow silence and solitude to be friends on your journey.
(This blog was part of an e-news sent July 2023. Sign up for Kasey's quarterly e-news here.)
Kasey is a scarf, ball and club juggling spiritual director just outside of Nashville, TN. Play helps her Type-A, Enneagram 1 personality relax, creating space for poetry and other words to emerge. She also likes playing with theological ideas like perichoresis, and all the ways we're invited into this Triune dance.