the shattered lantern
I’ve never experienced a silent retreat before until this year. I decided to go because I felt that for the longest time I lived such a noisy life. This noise comes in many forms. Exterior noise and interior noise. When the noise becomes overbearing it becomes hard to hear yourself or God. So this year I made a decision to go on a silent retreat that spanned the entire Holy Week.
I had many thoughts and fears going into it. What would I discover? What would I feel? Am I “finally” being called into convent-hood? *tense pause*
Contrary to many who think silent retreats are only for those discerning the religious life, I’ve realized that silent retreats are necessary especially in today’s fast pace rhythm of existence. A book I chanced upon in the retreat house entitled “The Shattered Lantern” gave me so many insights on why today’s life is so absent of satisfaction even with the variety of opportunities and the wealth of information. Allow me to share some meaningful paragraphs I picked up from the old worn copy of Fr. Ronald Rolheiser’s book.
"Today nothing seems enough for us. The simple and primal joys of living, those that Merton describes, are mostly lost as we grow ever more restless, driven, compulsive, and hyper. Within our lives there is less ease, more fever; less peacefulness and more obsessive activity, less enjoyment and more excess. These are the telltale signs of unbridled restlessness.
Being filled yet unfulfilled comes from being without deep interiority. When there is never time or space to stand behind our own lives and look reflectively at them, then the pressures and distractions of life simply consume us to point where we lose control over our lives. Furthermore this lack of interiority is largely the product of undisciplined restlessness. When we are unreflective, invariably it is because our restlessness lacks a proper asceticism and simply propels us into a flurry of activity which keeps us preoccupied and consumed with the surface of life with the business of making a living, with doing things with distractions, and with entertainment. It is the that our actions no longer issue from a center within us, but instead are products of compulsion. We do things and we no longer know why. We feel chronically pressured, victimized and hyper-driven. We overwork but are bored; socialize excessively but are lonely: and work to the point of exhaustion but feel our lives are a waste.”
No, God didn’t call me to convent-hood. No, I don’t have a list of plans laid out for the next 5 years.
But He did invite me to do this: He invited me to live from the center of my heart because He resides in there. He invited me to let Him lead and move to His rhythm. He invited me to rest in His truth and involve Him in my every day. He invited me to live from a deeper trust that He who knows me inside out knows exactly what I need and what I long for.
It sounds vague to those who probably have never experienced a 4-day silence. But the silence forces us to face the reality of ourselves unmasked. The deepest questions surfaces and there is nothing and nobody who can answer except the One who put you there. And when you become patient enough to sit with the silence and be still enough to linger in His words, you begin to allow Him to reveal Himself to you in a way that only you can understand. And in a way that only He can assure you of.
Silence (and prayer, which was recommended for 4 hours a day) became the way in which my senses have been opened to see the sacred in the secular. It has reminded me again that there is more to life than what we see and feel from the surface of our thoughts. Silence allowed me to unclench my fists and let God lead the way into rediscovering what He wanted me to receive.
A restoration of an identity unto Himself.
There is an attractiveness that emanates from people who live with such an interior freedom. The people I met in this retreat were seekers just as I and I saw that it is possible to have this freedom as long as you create a tabernacle within for silence and meet God there.