April 17, 2020

Worship and Evangelization Outreach | Cheryl McSweeney

We are all being called to a different kind of silence

Here I am, sitting at home, during a pandemic. It’s Holy Week. I’m supposed to be at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis, hosting a day of silence, enjoying Mass and embracing silence with others that feel called to it.

Instead, we’ve all been called to another sort of silence.

Many people are being called to the silence of their homes, living alone, others called to the silence of their hands, suddenly stilled and without work. Many are feeling the call of silence in the form of fear, anxiety and sadness. So many feel like they are not living without the “busy” of life.

I would like to share a little secret with you since we are all here in this space together: Slowing down and embracing silence is sacred and should be cherished.

I’ve been walking each morning since this all started, and I’ve noticed so many things that I’ve never noticed before because I was always rushing through my days. There are horses about a quarter of a mile from my house; willow trees blowing in the wind are like pieces of art; I have way too many “things” in my house; a yellow pansy can hold about 100 shades of yellow in one petal; an approaching rainstorm still smells amazing; simply watching water move is incredibly relaxing; and watching a bee pollinate a flower is absolutely fascinating.

“Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10).

It is a phrase that is often stated, especially during times of great stress. However, when you really study this Scripture, you find out that it’s not just about slowing down and letting God be God. It’s more of a wake-up call to all of us. To me, it says, stop what you are doing and spend time being in awe of all that God is.

When I tell people that we offer “Days of Silence” at Fatima, the typical reaction is one of denial. “I could never do that!” In all honesty, I used to be one of those people until I started to experience the silence. I don’t know if I was afraid of what I would hear God say, or if I could ever get my mind to slow down long enough to listen, but what I have found is absolute peace in the silence. I understand why people crave it now. It provides an intimacy with our God in a way I never knew possible.

We believe that people are called by God to do different things. We are all being called to a new and different kind of silence right now. We may not be able to embrace one another right now, but I hope that we can all find a way to embrace this gift of time, of change, of stillness, to grow closer to our God, our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

When this all passes, and it will, please know that you are always welcome to come to Fatima to find that place of stillness yet again.
 

(Cheryl McSweeney is associate director of operations at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis.)

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