This week I am on course at the lovely Five Oaks facility outside Paris, Ontario. The course is Spiritual Formation and Soul Development and the Art of Spiritual Direction. Sounds lofty perhaps but in reality it is not. It is a group of people who believe in the importance of spirituality and who have been on very different but equally difficult journeys themselves in their search for the divine. They are very real people with a very real desire to be in the will and the presence of the creator.
Much of our learning here is about spiritual things, thought, approaches, religions and teachers but one of the most challenging pieces of our learning is when we take time to listen to the spirit ourselves and stay silent for a number of hours.
Yes it is hard to be quiet for 40 hours but the hardest part is not the lack of talking but rather the listening.
I am very aware that I am a person who needs to have hours filled with busy things. Tonight, tomorrow and into Thursday my challenge to myself is to put aside some of that busyness and just listen to what the spirit would say to my heart.
This will be my fourth time in silent retreat and I am coming to love the process. The first time was a very transitional moment in my life. I had just come off a long period of fasting and it was a time when some new things began to open up my life and some new resolve took root in me. The second time time all I did was sleep. I had been exhausted from a long winter of caring for someone else and worrying and I needed rest. The spirit spoke “Rest” to me and it was the beginning of a new journey toward wellness…one step at a time. The last one was last fall. Again at Five Oaks (becoming my favourite place on earth – almost). Much of that time was spent in nature, on the trail and with camera in hand. Again it was a time of new life for me. Moving out of pain and into joy.
Each experience of silence is different and for each participant it is a different journey even though we may be in the same building and walking the same grounds. An advantage with this group this year is this is our second time together and we have begun to know and love one another. To me that means I will have a cloud of love and caring around me. I will be looking forward to another new experience.
If you would like to find out more about silent retreat at Five Oaks take a look at the programs on the web site.