During the season of summer we savor and appreciate any number of activities and embellishments: beaches, ice cream, bbq, sprinklers, bare feet, cold beer, boating, picnics, hot dogs, swimming pools, cool evenings, and your favorite summer pastimes.
But the sisters and staff here at Mercy Center Auburn welcome each year another kind of summer phenomenon … the silent retreat. The month of July was somewhat extraordinary as we accommodated two silent groups back-to-back for 16 full days of silence. And being present on a daily basis is a blessing on many levels. While the retreat center and kitchen staff are ever occupied with the daily routines of cooking, cleaning, telephones, meetings, conversations, preparations, and deadlines, all is done with an intention of quiet so not to intrude on the sacred silence. Then you find yourself scurrying from one part of the campus to another and suddenly slow down as you notice the contemplative group assembled out in Mary Grove moving in unison to the slow rhythm of Tai Chi Chih. One becomes aware, maybe painfully aware, of how fast a pace is all our running about when surrounded by people who are fully engaged in the moment: walking, resting, eating, meditating, artistic endeavor, just noticing. The inspiration of 16 days of the Spirit’s generosity lingers as guests depart and go about their summer everyday-ness. And we soon realize the 16 days as a “blessed memory” as we welcome the incoming who bring life and celebration and joyful noise!! In this peace-filled-ness of work activity and communication, I cannot help wondering how a custom of “quiet” might be of great value to every gathering and workplace, or, dare I suggest, household. Thank you God for the graces of summer.