For example, one of the most important parts of the retreat is being silent. We were silent every night from 10 PM to 6 AM, but on the fourth day, we went into more focused silence from 5 PM to 5 AM. In the silence, it is easier to practice the presence because you can more easily leave the world around you.
The first lesson that I learned in the silence was compassion. I realized that the loudest noise I hear – the noise that I needed to silence – was my inner voice. Take a moment and listen to your inner voice. What are you telling yourself?
My inner voice was filled with criticism and condemnation. I had to silence my inner voice as well as my outer voice – to hear God.
The second lesson I learned in the silence was to look deeply into my own eyes and smile. In the mirror, my whole face smiled with me. Have you taken the time to see you and bless yourself with a smile? I never would have taken the time to smile at myself if I were not silent. Looking deeply into my eyes and smiling was like staring deeply into an opening in my soul.
The third lesson that I learned in the silence was to be moderate in all things. Spirit made me promise not to deprive myself. I can eat the blanched kale and oatmeal and fruit that we had for breakfast – with ground flaxseed. But for me, I can also eat flesh in moderation, sugar in moderation, salt in moderation. Moderation also requires that I in-take the colors of the universe: beets and oranges, strawberries and radishes; sweet potatoes and tangerines; cucumbers and mangoes, and sweet potatoes and egg plant. Whole foods shined through us fresh as a new aura of wholeness.
The fourth lesson that I learned in the silence was to stop judging. Instead, I allow peace to fill my heart: a peace that washes away fear, a peace that washes away sadness, a peace that nourishes my soul. In peace, I rest and am renewed – rising like an eagle, strong enough this time to fly higher.
The fifth lesson that I learned in the silence is how to see my husband more clearly. I really saw him as who he was for the first time. He was there in the silence too as he accompanies me on every retreat and for every service, presentation or workshop. We have been in the silence several times before so we know to avoid each other’s eyes. Our eyes would be conversation in and of themselves. Instead I feel his anticipation of my needs, his desire to give, his patient attention to detail, his strength to my weakness, his husband to my wife, his light in my darkness.
The sixth lesson I learned in the silence is that I already hear the prayers of others – not loudly, but instinctively. I already am part of the impetus to receive answers. I already ride on the wings of grace with blessings and favor. Miracles are already taking shape.
The seventh lesson I learned in the silence is how to see you. I know you by your magnificence. Your radiance transcends the mago womb of love. You are as brilliant as dawn, dressed in new moons, wearing the victory of new seasons. Each one of your ten toes and fingers wiggle in the rainbows of lasting promises. Each one of your amazing stars curls through your hair and colors your skin endless shades and hues of brown. I learn the importance of being present for you as much as I am present for me.
The eighth lesson that I learned in the silence is that my dreams are already one with nature. My dreams awaken in the desert even more eloquently than they do in the city. In Sedona, my dreams ride the winds of gentle kisses and leap from the limbs of juniper trees, saying “you have arrived, you have entered a new realm, you are here.”
In the silence, deep within the silence, I know that we are born of the same mother, fed by the same father, guided by the same holy spirit, led by the same Christ of many different names. I know that our song will last forever because I can hear it. It is a song bestowed on us by the ancients, a song of grace given to us by God, a song of power exuding from every cell of our being, a song of wholeness connecting us as one, a song of Genesis constantly creating, a song of vision beyond the world dimension.
In the silence, I hear a song of joy that never ever stops singing.
The love in me embraces the love in you.
Rev. Cecilia B. Loving