Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Retreat

It's nearly the end of a silent retreat I have been making this week. We have had the last of our talks from the retreat master, David Moore, Vicar of St. Luke's in Christchurch, had our last silent meal and it now feels over enough that I can write this and talk to any other retreatants who happen into the room.

At the start of any serious prayer I always have a prologue; a sort of introductory mini prayer in which I reflect on what exactly I am wanting from this imminent contact with God; a short place where I ask for any appropriate graces for the time to come. At the start of this retreat then, I asked that God would use the time as God wished and that I not get in the way. God seems to have taken me at my word.

The first night I went to bed soon after 8 and slept until 7. I meditated for as long as my knees would allow. I went for an hour's walk every day. I took the Eucharist and attended morning prayer. David has been a superb retreat leader, giving beautifully honed, well researched but brief addresses and knowing how to leave most of the day empty for the silence to work its powerful magic. One of the gifts he gave was music to start and to finish the end of all the formal sessions, and he chose the pieces well. One of them, yesterday, was Loreena McKennitt's haunting rendition of the poem which begins John of the Cross's Dark Night of the Soul. I was so moved by the song that I began to reread John of the Cross, and this has been the deep heart of the retreat for me. What a strange thing, to have someone speaking across more than 400 years and describing my spiritual walk with an accuracy and in such personal detail that it is cringe making.

Tomorrow there will be final farewells and we all leave: me to drive immediately to Wanaka and participate once more in the life of this little Diocese on the edge. But I go stronger and wiser and deeper for my encounter with David, with John of the Cross and with the one who waits for me in silence. 

2 comments:

Barbara Harris said...

John Michael Talbot also sings St John of The Cross, on his album,
The Lover and the Beloved. Some of the songs are also in his Collections. They have a haunting beauty that melts the heart.

Elaine Dent said...

How timely for me are your words, the music. Thank you for this post which I will print out and take with me.