I recently had the opportunity to attend a Women’s Retreat Weekend through my parish, which took place at the beautiful Cardinal Stritch Retreat Center in Mundelein, IL. Throughout the weekend, there were numerous opportunities to silently reflect and pray. We were allowed to talk during some of the meals; however, if we wanted to remain in silence, we could choose to sit at a specific table designated as the “Quiet Table.” I often found myself choosing to sit at the “Quiet Table,” as I was enjoying and (very much) needing the silence.
Silence is a Gift
While sitting in silence one morning over breakfast, I began to smile and quietly laugh to myself, as I was reminded of how I used to view the “Quiet Table” as a child. When I was younger, the “Quiet Table” was used as a form of punishment. Specifically, I remember how one would be sent to the “Quiet Table” during lunch if he/she misbehaved in school, and it was the absolute worst place to be. And yet, as an adult, I found the “Quiet Table” as a gift. How often do we get the chance to rest in silence? Personally, I am always so consumed with thoughts and agenda items that there never seems to be a moment when I have absolutely nothing on my “to do” list. Even if I do experience that rare moment, I immediately begin to stress that I have forgotten something.
I also find it hard to be silent in prayer. One time in college, I was complaining to a priest friend of mine about how I had been praying and praying to God, asking Him for something in particular, and how I did not think God was listening to me. The priest said to me, “Well, have you actually given God time and space to speak?” He was right! I had never thought of this, but I immediately recognized that I was constantly filling my prayer time with words: my prayer intentions, my hopes, my desires. I had never actually let God speak to me. Currently, one of my favourite prayers are the words “speak Lord, your servant is listening.” Even Pope Francis, in one of his daily homilies, reminds us that silence “helps us to discover our mystery. Our mystery of encountering the Lord. Our mystery of walking through life with the Lord.”
Silence is a gift, and we all need a little more of this gift in our lives. So, here’s my challenge for you: Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Try to clear your mind of all thoughts, feelings, anxiety and stress. Just enjoy a brief moment of silence. Embrace the silence. Be thankful for the silence. Rest in God’s presence and let Him speak to you.
– by Rebecca Siar, USA