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.