Day of Quiet, Day of Love

14502948_10154325319875129_237123255564037621_n.jpgIn the training I am taking for spiritual direction we have week long residencies.  My group has been blessed to hold our residency at Five Oaks near Paris Ontario.  Mid way through our week of intense learning we have a 24 hour stretch of silent retreat.  While everything in me screams against such a colosal waste of time in the midst of learning I have come to accept it. Perhaps I have even come to appreciate it.

Today was that day of silence and along with my other usual protests against silence it was a day which I did not want to be silent and alone.  As is often the case though, when I surrender to the will of the spirit of the divine, it all worked well and the pieces came together to create and rich, restful and restorative day.

Part of that day was a walk in the woods.  Come with me for a while.  Enjoy the slide show on my Facebook page and hear the tale of my journey in the woods.

My walking poles slid nicely into the earth which is freshly wet with rain after a along summer of drought.  There was a slight squish of mud under my feet as I walked the toe path along the bank of Whiteman’s Creek.  The autumn sun was warm and the air held a slight mist from the heavy dampness of shorter days.  I looked forward to the trail ahead.

I’ve walked this trail a few times.  Enough to know the basic geography and feel confident of it’s ending and the safety of it’s depths.  It is well maintained with bridges and wooden footpaths to cross the wetland areas.

As I moved through the tall trees and pushed golden rod aside from the path I could hear the babbling of the water.  It was reasuring and reminded me of the constant flow of life.  When I moved away from the water into a thicket I was suddenly reminded I should have worn long pants.  The golden rod had given way to raspberries and while in summer the fruit would have been wonderful, now new vines twisted across the path making it a little more difficult to move and picked at my flesh.

In this more open area of the woods I could feel the heat of the sun on my face but with it came a viel of spider webs.  At first I resisted them and tried to wipe them away but that became too cumbersome so I finally decided to just let them cover me until I emeged. Then I would wipe them away.

My feet found their way over rocks and moss, over twisted tree roots and along a bank which had given way slightly.  I was glad of the grip of my walking sticks.

There were flowers in the path.  The flowers of early fall but because there has been no frost they hold their colour and splendor.  The leaves have only been slightly touched by the ferries of fall who paint them such splendid colours but there was an emerging of soft yellow and brown with patches of red and gold.  The ground was only lightly littered with the first hint of falling leaves.

 Every sort of tree  I know met me on the trail.  There were two towering walnut that seemed to speak to me as I passed.  Their branches groaned heavily and I was surprised they had such a large voice in such a soft breeze.  There were large and small of each variety of tree but I was particularly taken with a tiny oak which rested on the side of the path.  I breathed a quick prayer that it would survive so close to the trail and soon join its parent tree in spreading long arms out to protect the forest floor.

There was little rustling of birds in the trees.  Many are moving south already so their songs don’t fill the air like the spring but a cardinal pair flitted in front of me and I could hear a crow in the distance.  A squirrel caught my eye as it darted up a tree with a walnut to hide for winter.  A chipmunk hightailed it to a hole I could not see beneath the brush.  A small streak of yellow slid across my path and made me stop.  I love watching snakes as they weave themselves into the fibre of the forest floor.

The stream bed was much drier than I’ve ever seen it before, even after the rain, but further along it began to trickle and turn into the babbling brook I love to hear.

And then I broke out into the sunshine in the meadow and headed back for supper, grateful for my redeemer, who allows pain too deep to bear to experience the healing and hope held in the glory of nature.


About Peggy Guiler

You just never know what show up on my blog. As the name implies it is about the stuff of life just like Spilt Milk. Everyday events spark thought and contemplation. Special events in the community, the country or the world may strike a cord and get me talking. Sometimes it's about people in my life or circumstances, sometimes about my garden, sometimes about a book or a political issue. Always it's about something I am passionate about. In my business, River of Hope Enterprises (, I work as an "Certified Coach" (International Coach Federation), a trainer, consultant and speaker. and as a spiritual director. I also drive a school bus to keep the wolf from the door while I build my business. I love the kids on the bus (most of the time). My family is grown and I have three grandkids who thrill my heart but I don't get to see any of them very often. Circumstances of life have made "family" difficult. My son died by suicide at age 16 in 2000 and the strain on our family relationships since has been huge. Mental health is a field where I worked for almost 22 years and where I still do some consulting and training. That combined with my own battle with depression and my son's death weave together to form some of my greatest soap box items: suicide intervention, suicide bereavement and peer support in mental health are right on the top of my list. Social justice is an underlying passion. Keeping the wolf from the door as a single parent was full-time work and my career path as a journalists was augmented with cleaning contracts, cooking, retail clerk, and bartending. I have known hard work and am grateful for the experience and perspective it has given me. A firmly grounded faith and a passion for learning has now taken me toward a new field as a Spiritual Director and I am soon adding to that a license to marry people. As I move toward retirement I am very aware that I have to keep working so I chose to do things which will meet my modest financial needs and also my love of supporting people in their life journey. Woven into all of this is my love of writing. Trained as a Journalist, and having worked in the field as a freelance news writer for many years, I have a great love for writing. This blog is a new beginning for me. As I hone my skills and begin to form a daily discipline of writing I hope it will lead to more writing in the future.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Day of Quiet, Day of Love

  1. Sue Cowan says:

    Peggy, I went on a 1 week silent retreat when on sabbatical in 2012 at Loyala House in Guelph. I loved (as an introvert) that I was not forced into conversations and finding common ground when a smile would suffice! I loved that I could walk the property with heightened senses… and truly enjoy (and delight in) two deer… the burbling brooks… the miles of walking paths… the serenity of a cemetery…. Yet this keen awareness was also fraught with dis-ease… participating in worship and feeling VERY unwelcome (Catholic liturgies that everyone knew but the few non-Catholics… along with communion that clearly said we were not one of them)…having a Jesuit priest ask the same questions daily (as if I’d forgotten that he asked them yesterday) during my brief daily break from the silence fast I was on.
    Ultimately, this was a rich experience… of heightened self-awareness.. connection to the Divine… and the daily prodding by the Jesuit brother called me engage all my senses and go deeper… and deeper… apart from the ritual busyness that is ministry… the distractions and routines of family life… the known to search out the unknown… the familiar to be at ease with the unfamiliar… and in all these unexpected places to find God…
    Of course, all of this culminated on the final night when 30 strangers silently watched an exquisite sunset on the outdoor terrace, and although we remained silent, we had a feeling of connection… community… and better than this, share an intimate moment… a sacred moment with each other, without uttering a single word… It was a thin place indeed.

    May your time at Five Oaks provide many experiences of this thin place… this Holy ground… this intimacy with others… the transcendence of the Holy that leads to transformation, renewal, rebirth!

    • Peggy Guiler says:

      Thanks Sue. Silent retreat have become a way of life in the past three years. I’d love more but it’s sort of like a mountaintop experience. Gotta come down and back to real life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s