I got home from the “Well of Mercy” Friday evening. It is a wonderful and intentional place whose mission is to simply offer you somewhere safe to rest. I tell people that being there tends to give you exactly what you need, even if you are unaware of that need.
For me, I just needed some quiet, so I did not have a phone or a computer while I was away. Though both are permissible at the Well. And, just as I suspected, the world went on turning with out my having either.
I am not criticizing technology; I love it. But sometimes having constant access to the seemingly ‘immediate’ begins to warp my brain and my soul. It can become an addiction and a compulsion for me. The need to always have my phone with me, the urgency I feel to respond to emails, the relief when I hear the ‘bell’ telling me I have an email or a text(that must mean that I matter), and the angst I feel when I’m not “connected.” It all has to be kept in check.
I opted not to talk for 48 hours which is also not mandatory at the Well of Mercy. This blew my youngest daughter away. She could not fathom me not speaking for two days. She asked me when I returned home, incredulously, “You mean, you really didn’t say anything!!?” “Well,” I said, “I did have to ask for a band aid.” And I thanked the cook for preparing meals for me, and washing my dishes.
But, I didn’t talk at the meals and they graciously had a ‘silent’ table set aside that over looked the back property. Which incidentally, is beautiful. It may sound a little rude, to be in a room full of people and not speak. Honestly, the first time I did it three years ago, it felt rude. I am a Southerner, after all.
But, it is not rude. It’s just what I needed. And the Sister’s and staff are very accepting and encouraging.
This was my third silent retreat, and it has taken me a long time(years) to get to where I enjoy and long for the quiet. My first solitude retreat was about five years ago, and I went on it with people from my church. The ‘silence’ ran from Friday evening til Sunday noon.
I got quiet around 9:00am on Sunday morning. The time leading up til then was a battle that raged in my mind and my soul. It was a very painful detox mostly because I was afraid of what the silence would bring. I even got so ‘spiritual’ as to resent everyone who was on the trip with me and their ability to be still.
It was not one of my finer moments, but even then in my despair at ‘failing’ a silent retreat, the Lord met me with enormous tenderness and compassion in those last two hours. That Sunday morning is a time in my life that I will never forget, and is an Ebenezer in my walk of faith. ( a remembering stone)
This past week, it only took me several hours to get settled. I read, walked the trails that surrounded the property, napped, prayed, and just rested. I took a work of fiction, my Bible, and A Praying Life by Paul Miller.
I had read parts of A.P.L. over the past few months, but having it with me while I was away allowed me to read it cover to cover. I am very excited about the prospect of this book in my life. Very Excited.
One thing that stood out to me in APL was when Paul Miller wrote Psalm 23 in modern verse, taking out the “Shepherd” and everything He does for us. So much of the life I was living before I went away was without Him being close and me making small choices to be independent from Him. It was destroying me, and after reading Psalm 23 with Him taken out…I understood why, and found it ironic that was the verse I left on my blog to illustrate my longing to get away.
I know He has promised never to leave or forsake me, and I believe that. The dilemma was in that it was me that was leaving and forsaking Him every time I pushed Him off to the side because of my business and constant need for distraction and affirmation from other places. So, my trip was a ‘stop, drop, and roll’ of the spiritual sort.
I have to tell you though, that I did not come back ‘fixed’. I came right back into the same busy schedule that I left behind for two days. The difference is the amount of perspective that I have now upon that busy schedule and some insight into what needs to stay, and what needs to go. I had enough distance to really see what was important to me for this season of my life and can now make adjustments accordingly.
So even though I am not fixed, I did come back….feeling ‘well.’
Paul Miller’s A Praying Life excerpt.
“Our modern, secular world has removed the Shepherd from Psalm 23. Look what happens to the psalm when you remove the Good Shepherd and everything he does:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside quiet waters; he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for
my name’s sake; Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff; they comfort
me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows; Surely goodness and
love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
I am truly thankful for a place that exists so close to my home where I can go to be ‘alone’ and feel safe at the same time. It is hard to do, but I never regret making space to go and be quiet so that I can once again hear the voice of the Good Shepherd.