After almost 12 days in Wilmington, we’re off again on another adventure! This one, however, will be quite unlike the rest. Whereas the others were collaborated efforts with other orders or provinces, this one is strictly the six of us; whereas the others were usually workshops or educational trips, this one is a retreat; whereas the others were fairly causal, this one will be require us to be silent, abide by a strick and extensive prayer schedule, and most different of all, cut ourselves off completely from the outside world for one week.
Tomorrow morning we’ll be heading up to near Elmira, NY where we’ll find Mt. Saviour Monastery, home to a community of Benedictine Monks in the American Cassinese Congregation. For one full week, we will join them for prayer seven times a day (the first at 4:45am, the last at 8:00pm), and three silent meals a day, while spending the rest of our time in quiet contemplation. With the exception of a short period of time each day to discuss an assigned book, the entire retreat will be silent. This also means shutting off my cell phone and computer, refraining from listening to music or watching the news, and truly being present to silence.
Part of me is quite overwhelmed. The lack of technology will definitely be a shock for someone who grew up in the technology age, and I’m not quite sure how I’m going to cope without the news, email, Facebook, ESPN, my favorite music, and the general power to search the internet. It’s become normative, and I don’t look forward to that sort of change. What’s much more unsettling, however, is knowing that I might find something much deeper when I actually listen. What does one think about for ten hours in a day? What sorts of examinations of conscience, reflections of self, experiences in prayer are possible with that much time set aside? There’s quite a bit of uncertainty is such a vastness of contemplation.
On the other hand, what an incredible chance this is to begin the Advent season! Each year I complain that I’m too busy with papers, tests, work, shopping, and so on, and Christmas comes before I’m ready. I love that I’ll have intentional time set aside for prayer and relaxation to truly prepare for the celebration of the birth of our Lord. I don’t know how that could be much better!
Obviously, I won’t be able to post until we get back, so take the chance for your own personal internet hiatus, and spend some time in solidarity with me, praying and reflecting! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, and I thank all of you who read and/or comment for your support!