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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Different Kinds of Silence

The retreat house in West Palm Beach is on Lake Worth; I had a great view of the sunrise from my room. We were all keeping silence from Tuesday night and I think that the longer one is in an atmosphere of silence, the deeper one sinks into stillness.
I had just finished a book called "The Book of Silence" by Sara Maitland. The author had set out to study silence by living in different places. She speaks about the silence of the desert and contrasts it with the silence of the mountains. I find silence near water, even when I am listening to the roar of the ocean! However, it is the image of water that speaks to me of God. The ocean is a perfect image of how God is always the same yet always different - just look at the waves when they come in to break on the shore and how the water changes color, yet it is always the same ocean; just as the ocean is not the same, I feel that God is dynamic and experience something of the infinity of change in an infinite God.
As I walked along the water one morning, I saw one of the men who was with me on the retreat, wrestling with his fishing rod to bring in a large sea trout. It was a gorgeous fish and put up quite a fight and continued to struggle even after our fisherman had landed him on the grass and was trying to remove the hook in order to throw the fish back into the water. I thought how free that fish must feel when it hit the water and found it could swim again. I think one of the graces of even a short retreat is "being caught by God and then set free" - free of my own resistance, free of whatever hook I have swallowed, and then the joy of being thrown back into the grace of God!

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