…let me hear Your Voice (Song of Songs 2:14)

Oh Joy!  Thursday afternoon, I am leaving to spend four days in the silence and solitude of a retreat.  I have loved retreats since that first one in highschool, which I pretended not to like, because my friends said it was boring and a waste of time.  But God knew how I really felt.  Maybe my friends secretly felt the same way….

My first adult retreats were not silent ones, but I thought they were heavenly… until I made my first silent retreat.  That, indeed, was heaven!

I love the freedom to be silent, which is central to a silent retreat.  There is no guilt about not wanting to chat with someone, no expectation to nod in greeting to others, no laughing in the hallways, no small talk during meals.  Just precious, soothing, freeing silence.

As the silence takes hold that first night, it is like a soft, peaceful cloud descending over the retreat house.  Everything and everyone seem to recede into the mist, until there is only God and me.

He always brings a surprise….a beautifully wrapped gift, the contents of which He slowly reveals to me as the weekend progresses.  Years ago, I often found wondrous and unforgettable consolations in those Divine gifts.  In recent years,  they are more likely to contain an unexpected answer to a concern, a deeper insight into a mystery of faith or an indication of a new direction in my life.  Often, there is a message which emerges, a message personal to me, within the overall theme of the retreat.

And even though my current, prolonged state of dryness in prayer is likely to persist on retreat, there is always still hidden within, some ray of Light….like a smile from God.

The most incomparable joy and treasure of any retreat is being allowed to dwell for a few days beneath the same roof as my Eucharistic Jesus.  I always await my room assignment with great anticipation.  On two past retreats, my room was right next to the chapel, and I was absolutely delighted.  Other times, Jesus has given me the sacrifice of being on a different floor than He resides.  No matter.  He is there, and I can visit Him in the still and darkness of night.  I can stop in for countless moments throughout the days. 

This particular retreat has all night adoration on Saturday, and Jesus dwells in the monstrance, waiting for us to take turns coming to adore Him, rousing one another from sleep to spend time with the King.

All too soon the end comes.  At the noon meal on Sunday, we are released from our commitment to silence, and the din rises in the cafeteria as friends are once more able to greet each other, share their thoughts about the retreat, and hurry home to loved ones.

I am always grateful that a two-hour drive home awaits me, because I feel as though I must decompress to return to the noise of the world.  As the miles fly by, I feel my re-entry back into ordinary life so keenly.  The quiet of heaven seems to disappear behind me as I travel down the road.

There were times when I would cry almost the whole way home, and then stop at the adoration chapel and cry even more.  But Jesus taught me that this is not the way…that   even a retreat is not heaven, not yet the time for absolute, uninterrupted communion with Him. 

And everyday life… well, it is the moment to seek Him and love Him in others.  It’s the season for doing those ordinary daily tasks with joy, and offering them up for His Glory and the salvation of souls.  It’s accepting the cross and even trying to embrace it. 

But yes, it is still the time for silence, but now it is a silence I must struggle for.  It is not the misty, gentle silence of a retreat, but a silence wrestled free from the hum of everyday life.  A silence within, when noise is all about. 

But if I try, He never fails to come.  And…..

“I hear my love.
See how he comes
leaping on the mountains,
bounding over the hills.”
(Song of Songs 2:8)

To all of my blog friends, I will carry you in my heart this weekend and remember you in prayer throughout the retreat. I would be most grateful for your prayers as well. I truly love all of you!

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16 thoughts on “…let me hear Your Voice (Song of Songs 2:14)

  1. This sounds exactly like out annual Carmelite Retreat…ahh…silence. I can relate to everything you stated. Bathed in His Love and Presence and thank you for prayers.

    • Theresa, This is not our annual Carmelite retreat…we didn’t have one last year, as there was a near-by regional congress. I hope there will be one this year…usually in June. Ah…more silence : )

      You are most welcome for the prayers! Have a beautiful weekend!

  2. Patricia, I will be praying for you as you drive out… I saw the weather report and the same storm passing you is passing here as well,…So in all the rain I will offer them as tears of joy for you being able to go to the Lord and adore Him in silence.

    I am not an experienced retreat goer and have never been on a silent retreat Unfortunately the last retreat I was on was an awful experience .. that resulted in my changing monasteries. I’m still healing from it. I will wait patiently for another time when the Lord opens the door for me to experience the beauty you have described in your post.

    Thank you for the prayers… I too continue in that prayer we’ve agreed on together and I continue to storm heaven …

    Love and hugs…+

    • Caroline, I think you prayed away the rain! It’s 11am, and the sun is shining. It stormed all night, though. Hope it doesn’t return! I hope to leave here by 2pm, and am praying not to need the windshield wipers.

      I was so sorry to hear about your negative retreat experience. It’s so sad, but we have to be very careful what retreats we choose these days. I used to go to a beautiful retreat house where they had Eucharistic Adoration retreats….an entire weekend centered around the Eucharist. We even had a procession on Saturday night, singing the litanies and all as Father brought Jesus to three different stations for Benediction, then we would re-enter the chapel, carrying our lighted candles and singing “Crown Him with many Crowns.” Sadly, the nun who organized those retreats is now quite ill.

      Since then, this center has changed completely and I would no longer attend their retreats…even though the place itself is so beautfiul and filled with very traditional Catholic statues, paintings, etc.

      I actually thought of inviting you on this retreat, but thought it was probably too far away for you to travel. I do hope you can find something wonderful in your area. I’m going to make that a special prayer intention this weekend : )

      United in prayer,
      love and peace,
      Patricia

    • Thank you! I didn’t know you were a Carmelite…so lovely to hear. I have not yet visited your blog, but will as soon as I return.
      This retreat isn’t my Carmelite one..that will be in June if we have one. But it’s a beautiful silent Eucharistic/Marian retreat with very holy priests, so i go for it! It’s so hard to find good retreats within driving distance. Thanks so much for commenting!

      God bless,
      Patricia

  3. Patricia, you are a beautiful writer, your heart, and the the gifted way you put the words together: “As the silence takes hold that first night, it is like a soft, peaceful cloud descending over the retreat house. Everything and everyone seem to recede into the mist, until there is only God and me.”

    God bless you!
    Love,
    Colleen

    P.S. I finally posted for the Liebster.

    • Colleen, I appreciate your kind words so very much. Thank you with all my heart.
      I prayed for you on retreat, and wrote down your name on the petitions at our final Mass, they will also be taken back to the Sisters of the Order of the Holy Cross who will keep them on their altar and pray for them as well. I truly carried you and my other blog friends in my heart, and reminded Jesus of that several times. It’s such a joy to pray for others!

      I SAW your Liebster post. Hooray! Good job! I think it’s fine to duplicate the award. I did the same thing with my friend Caroline, who has a beautiful blog, Bell of the Wanderer. She’s also a rare and precious person.

      I’m looking forward to visiting the blogs you chose which I don’t yet know. I’ve added a couple of new blogs to my blogroll recently. I am so behind in my reading (and posting) for the past month. But I’ll get caught up eventually.

      Hope all is well with you, Coilleen. I’ll be over to visit soon.

      Love you,
      Patricia

  4. Patricia, I am so jealous 🙂 I made a silent retreat back in Sept. and hope to make another in May if they have room for me. There is nothing like spending time with God in silence.
    I will be praying for you during your retreat. God bless and enjoy hearing God in the silence.

    • Yes, I remember your September retreat….gotcha back : )
      I will say a prayer that you can get in on the one in May. I think two retreats a year are perfect. One just doesn’t seem like enough….such a long time between.

      Thank you so much for your prayers. I’m sure they helped get me through..especially the lack of sleep I always experience on retreat. Such a zombie am I, but a very happy little zombie : )

      During adoration after midnight Saturday, I complained to the Lord that I hated having to go back to my room and get some sleep when He was present there in the monstrance all beautiful and radiant in His Glory. But, I guess we’ll have to put up with sleep until Heaven !

      God bless you, Karin, and thanks again for the prayers. You were in mine all weekend as well.

      Love,
      Patricia

    • Noreen, thank you so much for your prayers. You were in mine as well. I just carried all of my blog friends in my heart and presented each of you to Jesus.

      The retreat was silent in that no one spoke to each other. But, we did have a priest who preached the conferences, led the devotions, and of course, celebrated Mass and heard confessions as well as offered spiritual direction to those who requested it. He was a very tired priest at the end of the weekend! He’s also a very holy priest.

      I didn’t mean that I was going to a hemitage or anything. I do have a friend who does something like that…makes a solitary retreat alone at a retreat house with no retreat leader or any other participants, etc. I have never done that. I would like to try it sometime though.

      Have you been on a “regular” silent retreat…like the Carmelite ones, etc., where there is silence among the participants, but the priest and or other leaders do speak?

      Bless you, Noreen,
      Patricia

  5. No never, Patricia. I’ve been on retreats where it’s more of a seminar and I do enjoy those. I almost feel like I would need some time to talk and process my thoughts on a silent retreat with someone. Are you allowed to talk to the priests to ask questions? I think I’d have a hard time keeping my mouth shut!!

    • Noreen, that’s funny…about “keeping my mouth shut.” : ) I have several close friends whom I know would tell me “Thanks, but no thanks,” if I inivited them on a silent retreat. It’s not for everyone…sort of like how in relgious life, some choose to be cloistered and comtemplative, while others are out actively serving others.

      I have noticed that on these retreats, some people truly embrace the silence; others stuggle, but desire it, and still others wonder how they will get through the weekend.

      The idea is that in not conversing with others, or even engaging them in other nonverbal ways (writing notes!), the soul is left free to speak and listen to God
      alone.

      You can talk to the priests in confession, and if they offer time for spiritual direction. Questions during the talks are not taken…at least in my experience.
      You might just surprise yourself, Noreen : ) You never know till you try. If you ever do, let me know how it goes…..

    • Okay, make that a promise : ) I think you might just surprise yourself at how much you love being alone in the silence with God…
      Oh, my retreat was wonderful! The priest was so holy, brilliant, inspiring, reverent and also humorous. I have had him on a few other retreats. Just a beautiful priest…so in love with the Eucharist and Our Lady. I always come home exhausted though. I’m a night owl, so stay up late, even though they get you up at the crack of dawn for Morning Prayer and Holy Mass. I try to sneak in a nap during the day, but it’s tough as I hate to miss anything. We had all night adoration Saturday, and that is always my favorite time. We take turns, and the chapel is beautiful with all the candles and flowers and the monstrance containing Jesus Who welcomes us so lovingly..so tenderly.

      Memories….am already dreaming of next year : )

      Love you,
      Patriica

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