Wait, did she just say silence?
By Tori Vissat | Guest Blogger
It was the fall of my senior year of college. I was in my friends blue Nissan minivan heading south for a weekend retreat with 5 girls I barely knew. Nine months prior I had a powerful spiritual experience with God that shook me to my core and although at times begrudgingly, I was looking for another.
Walking into the large colonial house where the retreat was being held, I was simultaneously filled with excitement and terror. Crazy thoughts swirled my head as we entered the living room to begin the evening activities. What are you doing here Tori? It’s a Friday night and you’re at a Catholic retreat, you’re a huge loser! I shook my head and tried to focus on the nice nun who was giving us an overview of the weekend. And that’s when it happened. I nearly lost my breath right then and there. Starting right now, she explained, the retreat will be in silence until tomorrow nights dinner. Her words rung in my ear like a loud jet plane taking off. Did she say silence? Like no talking at all? What I did next was completely apropos for anyone who was instantly gripped by paralyzing fear, I burst out in tears. My new kind Nebraska friend quickly tried to console me in my moment of crisis. She told me it would be great and that I would hear God in the silence. Even though I hated her for it in the moment, she was right.
It would be years later until I could comprehend the deeper meaning behind my ugly crying that fateful Friday night. The reason was as so: I was terrified. Utterly and completely terrified of what would happen. What would I hear? Would God tell me to do something crazy, like move to Guam and cut off all my hair? And the scariest, How would I be able to sit with myself for twenty-four hours? Twenty-four long hours where I would have to face my pain, wounds and broken heart. It seemed unbearable.
By that time in my life, I had fallen for every lie of our world that told me that silence was the enemy. And our world is good, almost too good, at doing just that. We are arguably the most plugged in, distracted, noisy, and media induced nation of all time. We are stressed out and too busy, constantly being bombarded by ads telling us to buy more things with the promise it will make us feel better. These illusions tell us to fill the God hole in our hearts with goods instead of grace. This all making it nearly impossible to find time for a minute of silence, let alone see its value.
As Christians, we believe that we are made in the image and likeness of God and that He desires to be in a relationship with us for all eternity, beginning here on earth. When we allow ourselves to be quiet with God, He reveals to us who we are. He literally wants us to sit down and in silence, speak to Him. Heart to heart. Like two friends over coffee. He wants us to share aloud the things that make us happy, our deepest hurts of life and our biggest dreams. And after doing this, to sit, listen and receive, allowing Him to speak to our heart.
It is in the silence that we discover ourselves. We find out who we are. We come to know how much we are loved, valued and desired by God. We see that we don’t have to face life alone, that it is Jesus who wants to accompany us on this often turbulent and rocky journey of faith. So even though Instagram, Netflix and Spotify are great, these and other things like them often can block us from receiving all that God desires to give us in our day-to-day lives. God wants to meet us in the silence, since after all, it’s the very language of His heart. Be not afraid, you are worth it.
The beginning of prayer is silence. If we really want to pray we must first learn to listen, for in the silence of the heart God speaks. And to be able to see that silence, to be able to hear God we need a clean heart; for a clean heart can see God, can hear God, can listen to God; and then only from the fullness of our heart can we speak to God. But we cannot speak unless we have listened, unless we have made that connection with God in the silence of our heart. | St. Teresa of Kolkata
P.S. You are enough.