by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM November 20, 2022
They are beloved and long-time companions: silence and space. They are the reason I never drive a car or start out on a walk, even a brief one, without a pen and a notebook. They provide an opening where I can listen to my soul, hear the voice of the Holy, and fall down in worship before beauty. They offer a refuge from the clamor of the day, a sanctuary where I can discover what I really think, a chance to devour poems and prose—my own and others’— reading them aloud, coaxing a reluctant image out of hiding, savoring every delicious syllable.
They are among the many reasons I appreciate retreat ministry where I get to enter into silence in a sacred place with sacred people, all of us gathered with a single intention: to better hear the Holy at work in our lives. They are underneath the sigh of a busy parent at day’s end when the children are tucked into bed and a hush descends and envelops. They are the impetus for building a she-shed or creating a space in the garage, for laying claim to a closet or a porch or a corner of the basement as our own, at least for a few moments. They live in the pause before a word is uttered and the atmosphere in a room changes. They feel like a hiding place, but one that somehow reveals and uncovers. .
When I first moved into the home where I now live, I discovered a room at the end of the hall that a previous occupant had used for storage, a holding space for the no longer useful broken chair, cardboard box, old lamp. But with three large windows on one side, two on the other, sunlight streaming in, the room cried out to me. I heard its longing to be something more, its desire to offer refuge. So I spent several days cleaning it out, inviting it to direct me. It insisted on becoming my office, my writing and creating and praying space, home to my flourishing jungle of African violets, pothos, cyclamen, and some unnamed neighbors I’m nursing back to greenness.
Whoever we are, no matter how full or active our lives are, we all need to make friends in some way with silence and space so we can hear our lives and pray with them. I suspect the deeply contemplative writer Gunilla Norris claimed such a space, for she notes that, “A room devoted to silence honors and invites the unknown, the untamed, the wild, the shy, the unfathomable—that which rarely has a chance to surface within us.”
Let us not be afraid to step into this space and invite the hush to reveal just such a diverse and boisterous crowd. Imagine the friends we’ll make and the places we’ll go and the ways in which silence and space, with God’s grace, will transform us into our best selves. Imagine what might happen if we let the hush enter our rich and full lives and linger there in some blessed and mysterious way.
Find a quiet space and sit in stillness with the Holy One.
Invite as your guests the untamed, the wild, the shy, and the unfathomable within you.
Welcome, listen, and give thanks.
Featured Image: Anthony Tran, Unsplash
Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating this holiday in the United States and beyond.
I also want to express my profound thanks to all who are followers of my blog, Mining the Now, anywhere in the world. You are ever in my grateful heart and prayer.
Please pray for my safe travel and leading of a guided retreat for the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart in Philadelphia, PA.
To automatically subscribe to receive new posts of Mining the Now:
Go to the Home Page of Mining the Now (chriskoellhofferihm.org).
In the left-hand column above the section marked “Archives”, you’ll see the words, “Subscribe to blog via email.”
Enter your email address in the space provided and then click on “Subscribe” and
follow any prompts.
You’ll then be subscribed to automatically receive any future blog posts from Mining the Now.
Thanks for following and subscribing!