Friday, May 16, 2008


I walked the grounds of the retreat center I was using for my personal day away. It was a beautiful spring day with clear skies, mid-sixties, plenty of sun. There is a path that has been nicely laid out. It meanders through a wooded area. It is canopied with tree branches displaying a variety of the color green. Sunlight eeks its way through exposed slots in the canopy. It is quiet. A gentle breeze made its way slowly along the path as well. Birds chatted. I could hear my footsteps fall as I navigated the terrain.

At sporadic times benches had been built for path walkers to rest, reflect, and relax. As is typically with the Catholic retreat centers I have frequented, the “stations of the cross” are displayed. These stations are comprised of thirteen images of the arrest, trial, rode to the cross, crucifixion and removal of the body from the cross. The resurrection is blatantly absent from these scenes. This has always caused me pause. I know the Catholic Church believes in, and highly regards the resurrection of Jesus, but in these placements they have chosen to not honor it. I need to ask why? Not in an indicting kind of way, but a genuine interest in the thinking behind it.

On my walk I simply basked in the quiet. I did not hear from God. I did not receive a revelation. Truth told, I thought mostly about nothing. This for me seems to be the norm. I have developed quite the ability to dwell on absolutely nothing. When I run I think on nothing. When I carve out quiet nooks I think on nothing. When I rest in solitude I think of nothing. This could be my mind needs the respite from busy contemplation, or I have not yet developed the ability to hear from God in the quiet moments.

In my spiritual heritage it is the quiet moments I have been told God best speaks. Not hearing from God regularly in the quiet I get a tingle of guilt. I wonder what might be wrong with me. This results in little insight.

But I will say there is a weird kind of rejuvenation that comes from these quiet moments. There is refreshment discovered. It is different from the sense of accomplishment I have when finishing a run. In the discipline of the quiet I feel no accomplishment, but I do get an inner “grin” that in a mischievous way I have stole something my busy life wants to deter me from.

It is this sense of mystery that keeps me returning. It is this ability to sneak in the “quiet” in the noise of life that motivates me to set the discipline to participate in these times. Even though my “task orientation” wants to douse the results of these times with a nagging sense it is a waste of precious time, I rearrange my thinking to accommodate the quiet anyway.

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