Silence, Stillness, and the Need for Retreat

candle held in cupped hands
I sit on an airplane heading to my silent retreat as I write this. This retreat, a seven-day one, is a gift from my husband for my birthday. As I anticipate the retreat beginning, it is not the silence that worries me. I always enjoy the quiet, the silence, the moments of prayer. I am afraid this year of the stillness that I know awaits me—the drastic pause from the hurried pace of my life these past couple of years.

Silence is part of my daily life as my husband heads to work and as my kids head to school. There are hours within my day when our house is quiet, save the sound of my fingers typing on the computer or the hum of the washer or dryer tumbling in the background.

Stillness, however, is rare. Days are full, starting with early mornings of getting everyone ready for school. As I return from dropping my daughter off at preschool, the clock begins ticking, marking the seconds remaining to accomplish my work before I slip back into my favorite role as a stay-at-home mom when my children return from school. The late afternoons are full and loud as I eagerly listen to the boisterous telling of my children’s days in between snacks, homework, and dinner preparation. The energy rises as Chris returns home, and the four of us spend the few cherished hours each night together eating dinner, preparing for the next day, tackling chores, and playing.

As so many parents, our minds are occupied with worry about our children, their friends, and their school. Thoughts of our finances, saving for the future, and raising our children dribble into conversations with my husband throughout the week. This year, too, as I shared in former posts, held a major move to a new city.

Constant motion is what this past year felt like. But in this steady stream of movement, silence found me often and allowed brief moments of prayer. Stillness, however, did not accompany these silent moments. The physical movements of my day, combined with the fullness of thoughts that occupied my brain, did not allow for either inner or outer stillness.

Physical stillness will welcome me quickly as my retreat begins. The realization of the lack of a to-do list will confront me first thing tomorrow. I am anxious about the stillness, as I give myself permission to pause. It will mean letting down my guard to embrace both the stillness and the silence, and allowing myself simply to be with God. It feels vulnerable to allow myself permission to rest fully in God. And while I feel anxious to let go of the hurried pace of life, I know that God will find me both in the stillness and silence of this retreat and provide both the release and rest I seek.

About Becky Eldredge 104 Articles
Becky Eldredge is a writer and spiritual director in Baton Rouge, LA. The author of Busy Lives & Restless Souls, Becky holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Education from Louisiana State University and a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University New Orleans. She has her Certificate in Spiritual Direction from Spring Hill College. Becky has been involved in ministry for more than 15 years, with the majority of her work in retreat ministry and adult faith formation. While ministry is one of her passions, her greatest joy is sharing life with her husband, Chris, and her children, Brady, Abby, and Mary.

5 Comments on Silence, Stillness, and the Need for Retreat

  1. Becky, thank you for reminding me of the difference between silence and stillness. I experience a lot of silence but I need to work on stillness in my spirit. Prayers for a time of deep stillness amid the silence and deepening even further your closeness with God.

  2. Thanks for sharing this very helpful insight, Becky. I so often appreciate how you see life as it is (and as how I experience it, too, without recognizing it). I’ve felt that same shock when experiencing stillness after endless busyness of mind and body. Too often I try to ignore it and force myself into a different mode of inner stillness–which of course acts to prevent that which I’m trying to achieve. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit has her ways and helps me stumble my way there.

    I’ll be praying for you, Becky, knowing the time before you will be rich with abundant blessings and surprises. Peace and stillness.

  3. Thank you so much for the reminder … I’ve been putting off a retreat for over a year. Will pray for your family and “the move” – just moved myself 4 times in 3 years, always for the Lord’s work. Need that stillness you describe. Blessings, Pam+

  4. Thanks Becky for the beautiful article on silence. I am on a journey to a big life changing living situation. Please join me in prayer that this decision is the right one. Peace and God bless

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