One of my shelters is going on retreat, a place to stop, still, search and gain sustenance for the next stage of the journey. I am enormously blessed to be able to be able to do this as part of my work and this week I went off with other colleagues from across the Centre for Youth Ministry to a Benedictine Monastery at Rostrevor in Ireland. The hospitality was excellent and we experienced the rhythm of the monastic day with Lauds, Eucharist, None, Vespers and Vigil. These offices acted as marker posts in the days and offered the opportunity to join the community at prayer and worship.
The guide for retreatants had this encouragement:
Come on now little one, get away from your worldly occupation for a while, escape from your tumultuous thoughts. Lay aside your burdensome cares and put off laborious exertions. Give yourself over to God for a little while, and rest for a while in God (St Anselm). Words which for me were soothing and healing – I had permission to just be.
The first thing our retreat facilitator encouraged us to do was to go outside and reflect on the phrase:
Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46.10).
I sat on the seat in the picture above and began to meditate on that phrase and this is what I felt God saying:
Be still and listen
Be still and find peace in your heart
Be still and love generously
Be still and see the mountaintop
Be still and smell the grass
Be still and hear the birds sing
Be still and be present in the moment
Be still and bask in my love
Be still, listen to the silence and let your soul find rest in me.
All these be stills connected with issues in my life that needed attention or revisiting and were a reminder of the danger of losing myself in the demands of every day and losing sight of what is really important. I know that I don’t need to be on retreat to be still but I sometimes forget to just take that time, even if all I have is five minutes to stop and remember that just being is needed to balance out the doing.
This is a meditation I will keep returning to – what is it today that God wants me to hear, experience or do in the stillness…