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The Sound of Silence

At about two o’clock this afternoon, I will start off on a five-and-a-half-hour drive to Coteau du Lac in Quebec for my annual retreat. It is something I look forward to every year. And as I was explaining to my 12-year old son, it is something I not only want to do — it is something I truly feel I need to do.

Do you not ever feel as if you can barely hear yourself think? What with all the noise and sounds that make up our everyday life, it can be pretty difficult to find that moment of silence to reflect and ponder about life. What for, you might ask? Well, if we consider your life to be a journey of sorts, there are times when you and I must stop to rest, look around and think. Are we still on the right track? Have we fallen behind or gotten distracted? Did we take a wrong turn somewhere along the way? Are we moving too fast? Are we moving too slow? Have we been taking care of ourselves?

Call it a spiritual pit stop, if you will. We get off the highway of ordinary life that has a posted speed limit of a multi-tasker’s nightmare. We remove ourselves from the buzz and noise that we and others make in order to give ourselves a chance to hear the sound of silence. If you’re not used to it, it can actually be deafeningly loud. A sudden silence can shout out the absence of physical activity and perpetual motion. Many are not used to it. In fact, there are those who can bear “silence” only with some music quietly playing in the background. There is this need for others to fill this void that can be scary for those who are not used to it.

What does silence sound like? I suppose it is different for each person. For me, silence sounds like a breath of life slowly taken in and calmly blown out. It is the many familiar gestures of care and affection that go unnoticed. It is the rhythmic beating of a heart, unseen but felt. Silence sounds like the echoes of a life filled with laughter and tears, ups and downs and many things in between. It is the wordless prayers that form, almost unconsciously, on my lips.

A period of silence allows me to take a good look at my life and what I have done with what I have been given. It is not forced; rather, it is a choice I willingly make. The human being, regardless of religion, race or gender, is composed of body and soul. We spend an enormous amount of time and energy taking care of our physical bodies, to the point of indulgence at times. In the process, we often overlook that essential part of the person that, in fact, lives on even after our mortal bodies die.

In a sense, I could say my retreat is like a spiritual spa for my soul. I go in order to strengthen and refresh my spirit; to renew and refill my spiritual reserves. I am eager to go because I know how much I need this. I am a wife and a mother, firstly, and my family stands to benefit from what I gain at the retreat. The silence with which I surround myself will allow me to hear what my Father wants me to hear. The silence affords me the chance to talk to my Father in confidence and with great love, without rushing off to do this and that. This is my precious time with Him.

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