I can’t really remember the year of my first Advent Retreat of silence. It was many years ago… Perhaps 2002? I was invited by a group called “Hungry Souls” and was led by Sibyl Towner and Karen Mains. I remember being nervous about the silence. Would I get bored? I imagined being in a group of a few dozen women and all the sudden needing to “shout out loud” to break the quiet. I had many questions. As much as I was nervous, when I arrived at the retreat center… everything was right in place. Karen and Sibyl gently guided us into the silence. We were given instructions along the way… so even in the quiet… no one was ever alone.
Since that first retreat, I have tried to keep the practice of two overnight retreats of silence every year – one around Easter during Lent and the other during Advent as Christmas approaches. I try to have a day of silence a month as a part of my own spiritual rhythm. Some months I am more successful than others!
This year… I am particularly thankful to enter into quiet that awaits. I am at a retreat center – Pendle Hill – somewhere in Pennsylvania. The year has been a busy one. The holidays are busy too. As I begin to settle my heart… I enter with anticipation into the silence. My prayer – for myself and others – is that we might all have some quiet to reflect upon the true purpose of the Advent Season. I am reminded of what it must have been like for the early church… awaiting the coming of the Messiah. We, too, must wait. We wait upon the Lord to hear the cries of our hearts. We wait… We wait also for Him to return again… that in His coming, the world might again be made right.
These are the Scriptures upon which I will meditate as I enter into this year’s retreat into silence:
Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly (Psalm 5:3)
We wait in hope for the Lord, he is our help and our shield (Psalm 33:20)
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16)
And there were shepherds living out in fields nearby, keeping watch over their flock by night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:8-11)