Silence. Leaves rustle above, wet sand mashes below, a breeze gushes, quacks come from the pond, chirps come from the trees. We’re on a retreat of silence at a nearby monastery enjoying a chilly day away from noisy Hollywood. While I can silence my audible voice, I cannot silence the sounds around me and I certainly can’t silence my inner thoughts no matter how hard I try. In the moments when I attempted to clear my mind and simply count my breaths, I ended up taking a nap on the chair at about “62.”
During this retreat I have been reminded in the silence of the beauty of God’s creation – the hills, trees, stones, sand, and setting sun. Hollywood has a beautiful view of the mountains, but has also been filled with streets, billboards, and people. I am reminded that a smile has the power of many words and that facial expressions and body language can speak volumes, but can’t always articulate exactly what you might want to say. I’m reminded during our silent lunch that I enjoy eating primarily because of the conversation and communion that happens around the table and without words, this space can feel somewhat awkward. I am reminded that although I often feel uncomfortable in silence, it is a necessary and wonderful thing.
Here I am reminded of the sacredness of silence and how you really can’t listen unless you are silent, even if only for brief moments. I have this challenge when talking to strangers, acquaintances, friends, family, and even God. To really be in relationship with anyone or anything, you have to be silent. I am guilty, at times, of waiting to interrupt during a conversation, of formulating a response after a few words rather than waiting to hear the complete thought. At the Center I’m surrounded by people who want to be heard (who doesn’t?) and who aren’t listened to very frequently. It is with pleasure that I ask about their stories, their lives before and while experiencing homelessness, and their beliefs. I try to really listen, to ask more questions, to let their story be heard, because it’s what everyone deserves. Sometimes they ask about my story, and sometimes they don’t – I’d rather just listen here anyway. I’m already being heard; thank you for listening and encouraging.
Fundraising Update: $5500 (goal $6500)
If you’d like to hear more about supporting me this year, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.