I just came back from a retreat given by my Oblate Director, Sr Lucy Wynkoop at St Placid Priory. It focused on Joan Chittister's Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light. It's an ABC of "qualities the world's most ancient of seekers say are the components of a contemplative life."
Sr Lucy chose ten qualities and enriched the discussion by including glorious illuminations from the magnificent St John's Bible. One of the qualities discussed was Silence which I chose for my assignment. With a quote from the book, I painted a watercolor portrait of Sr Redempta of Tanzania who is a guest at the Priory while she is studying at nearby St Martin's College.
The calligraphy on the portrait says:
Silence: It is the void in which God and I meet in the center of my soul.
Where in nature do you find sacred silence? How do you access that in yourself?What benefits might one get from practicing silence in this noisy world?
I was also tasked to offer body prayers for each quality. Let me share with you the movements we used for Silence. I used Sh'ma from the Torah which means (I liberally paraphrase Rabbi Shawn Israel Zevit, from SDI's Newsletter Listen, 3.2) the final exhale as we go back to the Source of All Breath:
Standing on holy ground, prayer hands on chest, we say:
(the sound of silence, of quieting the mind so we can hear the still, small voice within)
Open the arms, we intone:
(the sound of contentment, of having enough, of abundance...)
Bending forward, as we say:
(the universal sound of surrender, of letting go, of release into the unknown...)