For over decade, I have wanted to take a 10 Day Silent Retreat. I knew where I wanted to go. I knew where I wanted to be. I just couldn’t find the 10 days to get away from my busy work, mothering, responsibility life. Well, the kids are grown and the stars aligned and this week I will follow my yearning to attend a 10-day Silent Retreat.
I’ve read about others who have attended this retreat. I have good friends who have gone, and had a wonderful experience. I love Silent Retreats and look forward to them more than a trip to Hawaii. Yet, the couple of weeks preceding the retreat I began to feel a little uneasy. I began to question my preparedness for the retreat. As I explored my soul more God helped me to identify that I was afraid. I was afraid that God would not be enough. I was afraid that I would feel miserable, rather than the bliss I had been anticipating.
I know that sounds absurd. But it is just the diabolical scheme the enemy of my soul would bring against me as a time like that. What a sweet and amazing reality to recognize that the God who has been calling me to this retreat for a decade, is the One who helped me recognize what was happening to me. Thomas Keating wrote, “One of the chief factors that tend to destroy relationships among people and nations is the emotion of fear. It also destroys the relationship between us and God. To be afraid of God, or to be afraid of the other people makes us defensive. In the case of God, we will try to stay as far away from him as our situation and the demands of respectability permit.” Ever since I discovered what was going on in my soul, I have received nothing but affirmation from God that I have no reason to fear.
My little brush with fear, along with God’s personal and immediate response, has only served to increase my awareness of God’s goodness and compassion. As I journey towards this unknown experience, I grow grateful for my experience of fear. Though evaluating my fear, I have come to realize that I have no earthly idea what awaits in the week ahead.
Since then I’ve been back to thinking the impossible. Wouldn’t it be amazing if I came away from that experience full of the virtues of Christ? I love to think that I could leave a retreat like in a state of being that I never sin again. I don’t think that’s likely either. That would be asking a lot of a retreat.
Wise Solomon offers a balanced focus between fear about who God is to fear in response to the holiness of God. He writes in Ecclesiastes 5:1-5:
“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. A dream comes when there are many cares, and many words mark the speech of a fool. When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.”
I will move forward spiritually. I will not fear that God hasn’t brought me to this place for His reasons and for His purposes. I go humbly aware that I have no idea what God will do on this retreat. I will let my words and my expectations be few. My vow of silence will be good for my soul whether I find it difficult or blissful. I have absolutely nothing to fear.