Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: WEEKEND AWAY (short vacation) (07/23/15)
TITLE: The Facets of Silence
By Jenny Fulton
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I glanced over at my husband to see how he was taking my running commentary – the consequence of being married to a writer, I suppose. A small smile peaked out through his focused expression, so I gathered he was ok with it. I was glad, because at this point, I didn’t think I’d be able to contain myself. It was our first weekend away in two years. Our daughter was now old enough for us to feel comfortable leaving her with close friends, and we had taken the opportunity to head out on an off-the-beaten-track anniversary weekend. As much as I love being with my little girl, I was suddenly realizing how much of my concentration had been directed towards her. Now, having only my husband and myself to think about, my mind released itself as words came rolling out.
Thirteen miles down the road, we arrived at our destination: a small Benedictine Monastery. Another storm was rolling in and we barely made it to our room before the rain came pouring down. I looked around. It was a cozy chamber. Two twin beds lined opposite sides of the back wall. At the front of the room, two desks faced large windows overlooking the river and mesas.
It was quiet. All you could hear was the rain.
A short while later, we made our way quietly to dinner. Being a monastery, there was a bond of silence over the place which extended to the guests.
We were met at the dining hall by other guests and a monk who was responsible for looking after the well-being of the visitors. He was older man with bright eyes, an easy smile, and a fast-paced voice. Recognizing us as being new, he explained the dining process and then left to join his fellow monks. Meanwhile, we followed the non-monks into a large room where tables and chairs were set up. The guests sat on one side of the room, facing the monks who sat on the other side.
We ate in silence.
My mind, however, was far from silent. I looked around and wondered about the other people in that room, guests and monks. What was their story? What had brought them here? Wasn’t it great that people from different backgrounds could all be in one place, each pursuing the one true God!
Throughout the rest of that weekend, I found myself in an interesting conundrum regarding the quietness of the monastery.
On the one hand, it was great! I loved being able to hear from God and study His Word in a way that is difficult to do when I’m so surrounded by the daily demands of life.
On the other hand, the silence was frustrating. I wanted to share what I was seeing and learning! My husband and I did share often with each other, and our relationship grew, but I wanted to hear and learn what the others were learning, as well. Wouldn’t it be great if people from all different denominations could come together in mutual wonder of the God we serve, sharing and discussing the things He is teaching us!
I came away from this weekend retreat with many lessons learned, including one I hadn’t expected. I realized that although there are some who have chosen to commit their lives to following God according to this monastic fashion, my husband and I are not counted among them. We were not meant to stay in the breathless beauty of a remote valley, separated from our family, friends, the world. But we are able to gain strength and wisdom from a place like this – strength, wisdom, and life that we can take back and share with those around us.
Being filled with the truth, wisdom, and awe of God and sharing it – isn’t this what we have been called to do – to live out the knowledge of Him so that others might see Him in us and so be drawn to Him...
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