Wednesday, 07 December 2016 11:36

SILENCE: Compass and Guide for Spiritual Self-Care

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IMAGE SilenceAs I dig deep to find the meaning of silence, I am drawn to how our modern day Christian models used silence in their lives:

During his visit to the typhoon-ravaged city in the Philippines’ south, Pope Francis said: “So many of you have lost everything, I don’t know what to say to you. But the Lord does know what to say to you. Some of you have lost part of your families. All I can do is keep silence and walk with you all with my silent heart.”1 Pope Francis used silence as a compassionate and loving spiritual response.

One of Saint Teresa of Kolkata’s most famous quotes states: “The fruit of Silence is prayer. The fruit of Prayer is faith. The fruit of Faith is love. The fruit of Love is service. The fruit of Service is peace.”2 Saint Teresa used silence as a stepping stone to reach a higher spiritual goal of peace.

I schedule each day some moments in the morning to stay silent. Then, I listen to the Gospel readings for the day and watch the video reflection. Later on, in silence, my thoughts become a conversation with God. This time becomes prayer ... asking God to bless intentions for family, friends, relatives, work, goals and this journey of life. It also becomes a time to clear the mind and to affirm me as a child of God.

In my twenties, I spent ten days of silent retreat in Taizé,3 a hill in the south of France where an ecumenical community lives, works and prays. Although there were a few minutes of silence in every community prayer: morning, mid-day and evening, those days of silent retreat were pretty confronting for me. Was it because God was absent in those days of silence? Was it because the nun providing me with daily scripture and reflection input made sure that I was made to feel so outside my comfort zone? Was it supposed to be a time to experience the darkness of my soul? Or, was it because she asked important questions that I was not ready to answer? But, as I think of those days of silence, I am constantly reminded that silence is a very important part of my life as it serves as a compass and guide on my earthly pilgrimage.

Silence can be a time of joy – that joyful communion with someone who loves you. It can be a time of redirection – ensuring the path you are taking is the direction towards the achievement of your main goal in this world. It can be a time to commune with the past – the missed opportunities, the people you left behind and the dreams you gave up on. It can also be a time to grieve – for someone who passed away or someone who moved away.

Silence can lead to a deep spirituality. Yes, we can be busy and preoccupied with activities and events for ourselves, for our families and for others who need us. But, if we find time for silence in our daily lives – in the veranda overlooking tall trees or on the car or train as we commute to work or inside a Cathedral at a weird hour or even just walking the dog – we can find some peace within ourselves knowing that we are able to reflect on our days, joy knowing that we are cultivating an inner life and love as we become aware that we are caring for our own spiritual self.






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