Return from Silence
The Abbey was a place where you walk onto the grounds and you want to whisper because there is such an air of peace and contemplation. The grounds and guest rooms are really nice, and there was plenty of space and time to just be. The monks keep liturgical hours, although, I only did the Sext (noontime), Vespers (evening), and Compline (sunset) while I was there. The monks sing all the psalms and prayers, except for a reading in the middle of each prayer time.
I was really glad I had the crochet project with me. I don’t think I would have made it through the first night and day without it. In my head I was fighting everything: the silence, god, my purpose, Jesus, and my own thoughts. I’d ask Jesus “What do you want from me?” and the answer back was: “Be quiet, be still, just relax. You don’t need to do anything.” (All the rest of the deities were basically saying the same thing.) So I went to bed Tuesday night trying to let things go, but still fighting things a bit.
Wednesday morning, I woke up, and something seemed to switch in my head. I was still working on the gloves, but I was letting the silence and the prayers just move over and through me. I wasn’t trying to move fast to get anywhere, and the noise in my head seemed subside. There were still a lot of questions in my head. Many things that I thought needed sorting out about my path and vocation, but I just let them be. They came, and I wrote them down that night, but I didn’t ask (much) for answers. Instead I bought books from the bookstore, read, ate, walked, watched the farmer cut the hay, watched the butterflies, and crocheted. I listened to the squirrels chatter, and watched a hare (with huge ears!) wander through the vineyard. There were some more people coming to stay on Wednesday, but I spent most of the time by myself outside or in my room.
Thursday morning, I went to breakfast, then sat by the hay field (they were bailing the hay, which I thought was hysterically funny) and finished the gloves. When it got hot, I went to the guest chapel for awhile to meditate. After the noon prayer, I went for a nap (the rooms have air conditioning, and it was becoming really hot). I got up a little bit before Vespers and went to sit outside near the church. It was still hot, but not tremendously bad in the shade.
While I sat there, I watched the butterflies, and the birds, and the squirrels, and the crows, and I could feel everything. I could feel all the energies of the Earth and the plants. I thought I had lost this, but Lilith said “You thought you’d lost this? You just weren’t paying attention!” It’s true. There’s been so much going on between school and life that all I was hearing and feeling was noise.
There’s a lot I learned from this time in silence, particularly the fact that I need to have this kind of silence on a regular basis. Being an introvert makes this very much a necessity for my own stability. And, actually, this means “radio silence”: no internet, no email, no music, no writing, just being. Preferably in a psychically quiet space if I can. I was quite grumpy after the term ended, and I think the overstimulation was just getting to me.
So, I plan to unplug more during the week. Do work on my wheel in quiet, go for walks around my neighborhood (which is pretty quiet, and we have a county park down the street), anything it takes to get me that time.
Because sometimes I need to be reminded of the presence of Spirit so that I know why I am called to do the work I do.