Well, that was lovely. Six hours spent in the company of local nuns was just what the doctor ordered. In actual fact, I barely saw a nun. Aside from the person who showed me to my room, I didn’t lay eyes on another person all day.
Spending time in silence was different this time round. A whole plethora of emotions bobbed to the surface – sorrow, shame, anger, guilt, love and joy. They all came to the party.
I did what I have been instructed to do by the Journey practitioner and invited them in. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting quite so many feelings to show up, but it wasn’t a problem as they all passed through without exception.
I touched the bliss that is stillness once again and can’t quite believe it’s taken me this long to get there. And how is it that I have lived just a few miles from this amazing sanctuary and only just discovered it?
The place was warm and cozy. It has been newly decorated, the facilities are great and it felt like a home from home. It only cost me £15 to have a room to myself for six whole hours. I had the use of a kitchen, lounge/diner and prayer room, all of which I utilised without seeing a single soul.
There was a leaflet in my room about BBC Two’s Big Silence, a three-part documentary about a group of five people from varying backgrounds, who were asked to spend eight days at a silent retreat. I watched the lot when I got home – I am sure binge TV watching is not a good way to finish a day such as the one I had, but at least the subject matter was spiritual.
Every single one of the participants in the TV show discovered something big, something spiritual, loving and ever present in the silence. A few called this thing ‘God’ while others felt more comfortable calling it the ‘universe’ or their ‘soul’. I’ve glimpsed this thing too. I don’t know what word to give it. God has too many connotations for me. I see it as the universe.
A thought struck me at the nuns’ place. The earth and all life on it is a creative expression of the universe. It has all come from somewhere and it’s all part of the same thing. It’s that oneness that I keep reading about – by people who are clearly far more able to put it into words than I am. It doesn’t matter what you call it, but when you’ve felt it, it changes everything. Things that once seemed important – like work, money, nice cars etc, are not while stuff that seemed a bit airy fairy starts to look like a much saner reality.
It won’t be easy, but I have to make time for silence in my life. I intend to spend a 24 hour spell with the nuns, followed by a whole weekend and in my daily life, I aim to take at least 20 minutes a day to sit in silence. I have been following guided audio meditations, but yesterday I discovered that I don’t really need them. I am more than capable of guiding myself – or more to the point, allowing myself to be lead by the thing that’s bigger than your or I.
I put myself in the loving hands of the universe.