Playdates with God: Coming to Myself

This is a re-post from last year, as I’ve just returned from the same life-giving experience and am holding the peace of the silence inside of me…
I wear my flip-flops, which, in hindsight may have been a bad idea. But who would have thought that the steady flip-flopping of my feet would sound so loud when surrounded by silence? The Sisters float past me in their Naturalizers and Dr. Scholl’s—those soft-soled sandals. They’ve startled me more than once by their silent appearances out of nothingness.

We are cultivating quiet.

This is my third year to attend this silent retreat and it couldn’t come at a more fitting time. Noise. It’s all in my head and I’ve grown convinced I can’t slow for moment but the second I slip through these doors…I feel my heart beat start to listen to the holy.

There is a note at the desk from my friend—my Spiritual Director these two days—welcoming me back, celebrating our reunion. I’ve corresponded with her a little since we met at this same place three years ago and I am eager to see her face again. In her greeting she tells me, wash your hands as a symbol of moving into your inner depths where God dwells with you and speaks to you directly.

So I do. I wash my hands the way I was taught to wash them at that hospital where I work—soaping generously, interlacing my fingers and rubbing them together repeatedly. I cup my right hand and twirl my fingertips into the palm of my left. And then I do the same with the other. As I wash I am thinking of this: God dwells in me…

I open to His voice.

And all day long I can’t wash my hands without smiling.

I go to Chapel for Liturgy and Father Bill is there. He is wearing a long robe and a quilted stole that looks like something my grandmother would have sewn by hand. He tells us the story of Peter’s prison break. How the angel came and stood beside him and the chains fell off his wrists. How he followed the angel like in a dream until suddenly the angel is gone. And the scripture says that Peter came to himself. And I wonder about how frightened he must have been—James the brother of John only just being martyred a few days before.

But the liturgy is filled with unfamiliar music and responses and I am surprised at how I cling to each word for the newness of it all. And when the time comes for the Eucharist, I am actually looking forward to that communal cup. We pass the bread from person to person and each says to the other the body of Christ. I whisper the words, because this is a silent retreat after all. When the chalice comes I press my lips to that golden rim with gratitude. I remember when I first celebrated this way—how the wine was a fire that burned through my body and lit my face from inside. I pass the cup to my neighbor. The blood of Christ, I whisper.

And later I walk out under the trees, lie on my back under a tall Poplar tree and use my backpack for a pillow. It’s ninety degrees in the shade but I don’t mind. There is a gentle breeze blowing and the trees remind me to quiet my heart with their constant hush-hushing

I read my scripture assignments  and I feel chains fall from my wrists. Later we will have Centering Prayer and eat our evening meal in silence. And I don’t want to come to myself. Not yet.

How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

 

The Playdates button:

Comments

  1. JViola79 says

    I posted my link & then went back to read yours. I cannot believe that we both wrote on the same idea – silence before God. And yet, I know that this is God’s way. He confirms what He speaks into my heart. I thank you for sharing this today! Beautiful post. Beautiful retreat!

  2. Kelly Hausknecht Chripczuk says

    Your post stirs up an appetite for silence in me.
    My spiritual director told the story of how once when washing her hands she became aware of how violently she washed them and the invitation to be more gentle with them. So she bought lovely soap and soft towels and made hand washing a time of self-care. I love how EVERYTHING in life can be an altar, every moment a threshhold.

  3. says

    Laura, I love silent retreats. Where did you go? I find that the grounds of retreat houses, convents, etc. lend themselves to the silence and the listening to the Lord. Thank you for this lovely reflection.
    I didn’t get to meet you at Jumping Tandem, but I hear you are going to Alllume…I hope we can meet there!

  4. says

    I’ve been craving a silent retreat for months now. I am a wee bit envious of your sanctuary, but encouraged by reading your words. Thank you for this beautiful post. I’m seeking silence in a different way this season. Praying God would spark something in the small moments of quiet that I can steal.

  5. Kim Adams Morgan says

    Laura, it sounds like a wonderful experience. I have been to women’s retreats and come home filled up and overcome with joy. I am now going to be looking for a silent retreat to attend. Thank you for sharing this. Kim @Kim Adams Morgan Pouring Down Like Rain

  6. says

    I just finished reading Barbara Brown Taylor’s “Leaving Church” this weekend, and as I read you here today, Laura, I’m struck by the similarity between your two voices: authentic, humble, compelling. You draw me closer to Jesus through your own experiences with him. Thank you for sharing yourself enough to do that. It’s a gift.

  7. OutnumberedMom says

    “Cultivating quiet.” I love that. Need more of that in my life… You make us long for that, Laura. Thank you.

  8. kingfisher says

    So happy for you, Laura, that you were blessed by a silent retreat. I pray you’ll be able to hang on to the quiet sense of peace.

    I had my own God-time yesterday, in a tiny bit of “woods” where a local banking firm has let the wild things grow in an out of the way corner; ornamental trees with scarred, split bark, an overgrown laurel hedge 20 feet high on the adjoining property, and a few other plantings.

    I also have a mini-woods on a small back corner of our small residential lot, where I can pretend to be out in the wilds, talking to God. (The pics on my blog today are from this.)

    I miss our prayers and talking together.

    Love ya!

  9. Sharon O says

    Oh I have so wanted to take a quiet spiritual retreat. We have a monastery place not far from my place and have heard one can go there and sit and listen to the men sing. I think in some way that would be really neat, they also make chocolate. Yes that would be good too. :o) I love the quiet.

  10. Alicia Bruxvoort says

    Oh, silence. I can barely imagine it- in this house filled with five kids and summer noise. I’m going to need a quiet retreat when August comes. So thankful you are savoring something sweet and silent right now. He is GOOD.

  11. says

    Silence is golden, they say. I would add that it can be so sweet and tender, so delightful and thirst quenching, so beautiful. I would love a time such as that. May God continue to bless you as you ponder the time. Caring through Christ, ~ linda

  12. Michelle Eichner says

    How wonderful! I’ve done an hour of silence, but never been able to do a retreat of silence. Thanks for sharing. Hugs, Michelle

  13. Jody Ohlsen Collins says

    Laura, what’s significant to me is you titled this post, ‘Coming to Myself’. That made me ponder what happens in the silence as we listen to God. We become more of who He intended us to be. I’m almost finished with LL’s book and will continue to relish the words and lessons.
    Your words are beauty to read.

  14. soulstops says

    Sounds absolutely divine… to be quiet and to listen…praying you are being refreshed, Laura 🙂

  15. says

    Thank you for taking me with you. “I feel my heart beat start to listen to the holy.” Wonderful thought, aptly expressed! That’s what happened this morning in a luxurious 2 hours of quiet here in the midst of home repair projects. It felt so good to slow.

    Thank you for your note last week. The timing was perfect. Gracious words are a gift.

    Grace to you in Jesus for the re-entry adjustment after your retreat.

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