Tag Archives: silence


“Dark and Light” iPhone Photo DS

At Rivendell I was at my most friendly. I had come out of my solitary cell to see and talk with people. I smiled during silent ‘chapel’ time. I introduced myself to strangers in the hall and on the sidewalk. Breakfast lunch and dinner became a time for chatting and the treasure of getting to know strangers. I even talked poetry with a group from the States.

Most returned my friendliness. Others smiled and retreated to their rooms. One made me know with a look that I was not part of her group and how dare I take up her time when she was here to get to know them better. One woman closed the kitchen door and actually faced me down telling me that I was too loud. After my shock had abated, I apologized saying that I did not realize that.

I had assuaged my feelings of isolation there with some rich conversations. I was getting caught up on my reading. The day before I left, I read the ‘personal retreat’ page in the manual on the desk. I had not taken the time to read the binder as I had been at Rivendell three times before, but never on a personal retreat. It was then that I read that silence was a virtue as some, on the third floor, were there on silent retreat.

Uggh, I had embarrassed myself again. I blushed in private. In breaking my silence I had violated theirs. I became quiet. I returned home quiet.

How often have I been out of step with my peers? I have continued on aware of some difference with people but unknowing of the reason? This is why I need an all-knowing God for guidance daily to recover from my blunderings.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Book of First Corinthians


Last evening at the Contemplation and Collage Workshops, I struggled to listen to the stories of suffering by those in the group.  However, it was my role to listen.  We all like to be heard.  I do not like suffering or hearing about it but I choose to walk this path to share my sisters’ burdens and to help them break their silence visually with the spiritual practice of collage.

It is a fearsome thing to be asked “Why does a good God allow suffering?”  I have found clues in the writings of others.  I offer these words of Henri Nouwen from his book “Reaching Out”:

Often it is the dark forest that makes us speak of the open field…

prison makes us think about freedom…

war gives us words for peace…

our visions of the future [are] born out of the sufferings of the present…

our hope for others out of our own despair…

Someone’s careful and honest articulation of the ambiguities, uncertainties and painful conditions of life gives us hope.

The paradox is indeed that new life is born out of the pains of the old.