Last weekend I led a silent retreat at St. Mary’s Sewanee. It’s an Episcopal Retreat Center on the bluff above the University of the South. I have been partnering with Patrick Chappell, the young adult minister at Otter Creek for a number of years. We offer these Breathe Retreats twice a year.
The theme for this retreat was “Praying the Hours.” It was a rich time of focus on the Divine Offices that have been prayed for centuries in monastic communities. In essence, there are times of prayer designated throughout the day—a reminder that this life is about God. Thus, when the bell sounded in a monastic community, you gather to pray. If you can’t leave your work, you stop and pray where you are. Each of the prayers has a theme that coincides with the seasons of the year and of life. Macrina Wiedekehr has written a lovely book entitled Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day.
For example, I am writing this post during the noon hour. This is called Sext. It is the hour of peace. Wiedekehr calls it The Hour of Illumination. Themes for this hour are commitment and passion, courage and faithfulness, healing, truth, and peace. This is a narrative about the hour that she presented on a retreat while she was writing the book:
The noonday sun shines down with passion, speaking to me of zeal and enthusiasm. The great shining touches growth seeds at the core of my being. The burning fire restores my energy. As I acknowledge the bedrock goodness of my life an ardent desire to love and serve others is rekindled. I invite truth, authenticity and commitment to be my life companions. Just as Jesus embraced the cross at this hour, I recommit myself to courageously give my life away. If I am called to be a prophet of peace in a violent world then I must practice living with a non-violent heart. I pray for peace.
It is amazing to me who God gathers for these retreats. It is a demographically mixed group—some new to silence, some seasoned. All seem to be at the right place at the right time. One of the richest treasures of the time is when each person chooses a token to represent their time with God. We then have a time at the end of an afternoon of silence when the meaning behind these tokens is shared. God faithfulness is evident as each individual is touched in the way most needed.
I invite you to spend time in solitude with God. If you have done so previously, I invite you to make another retreat. I also encourage you to pray the hours of the day. There are many resources to help you do so. I am happy to assist you, if you want suggestions.
BTW, many of you have encouraged me to keep the offerings in front of you. I will post Upcoming Selah Events at the end of each post.
Upcoming Selah Events
Spiritual Direction Certificate Program – We are accepting applications for the 2018 Spiritual Direction Cohort. This yearlong program starts with reading in April, at home work, and two residencies in July of 2017 and June of 2018. For more information click here. Early bird rate ends March 31, 2017.
Our next on-line course Simplicity begins on March 15. This six-week course is a standalone course as well as part of our year-long Journey in the Contemplative Christian Spiritual Disciplines. For more information, click here.
A new series on the Monastic Traditions begins on May 1 with a course on Benedictine Spirituality. More information coming soon.