Perhaps you are much like me in wanting to hear God speak to you. After many years of learning more about prayer, I have found that it is important for me to be in silence so I can hear the voice of God speaking to my mind and heart. Learning how to receive all the good things God wants for me and His direction in my life is not always easy. But if I can find the right environment, time and an open disposition to really listen, I am much more able to hear and receive God’s interior messages in my mind and heart as I prayerfully try to listen intently.
One such place in our diocese I find helpful to spend time in silence is Broom Tree Retreat Center near Irene. Broom Tree takes its name from 1 Kings 19, in which the great Old Testament prophet Elijah fled to the mountain of God, Mount Horeb. After just a day into his 40-day journey, he stopped and rested beneath a broom tree, was fed by an angel of the Lord, and was given the strength to make it to Mount Horeb (verses 4-8). We then read that God revealed Himself to Elijah on the mountain, but not in a strong and violent wind, nor in an earthquake, nor in a fire, but in “a light silent sound” (verses 11-13).
In light of this passage consider the inscription on the front of the altar at Broom Tree (see picture on cover): “In the silence God speaks.” I love this inscription because it speaks a profound truth about the importance of silence in order to “hear,” that is, to sense interiorly the movement of God’s stirrings in our mind and heart.
Silence enables a person to remove all other distractions and ponder deeply what is going on in our mind and heart. It wasn’t in the great noise of the wind, earthquake or fire that Elijah heard the Lord, but in the silence.
Entering into this kind of silence before God in His Real Presence in the holy Eucharist in places like the Broom Tree chapel help me to open up to God what is in my heart, mind and emotions so I can receive His love, encouragement, direction and yes, at times, His correction of me (which of course we all need in our journey of conversion). When I do this, I find the words of St. Paul becoming more true within myself: “It is no longer I living but Christ living in me.” (Galatians 2:20) My experience is this: the more I let God live in me, the happier I am and the more divine love I have to share with God, others, and learn to love myself as God loves me.
Another place I find helpful to listen deeply in my mind and heart is in nature. Both at Broom Tree and Abbey of the Hills in Marvin I find the silence in nature a fruitful place to allow God to speak to my heart whether it is when I can’t really hear much of anything or through the sounds of nature which help me to reflect upon God, their creator. Nature helps me get my mind off myself and reflect upon the awesome beauty of God’s creation which in turn helps dispose me to receive what the Lord wants me to receive rather than me “staying in my own head” and allowing what is in my mind, heart, will, and emotions to come to the surface to be reviewed with God so I can sense what He is trying to share with me.
This Lent I invite you into the silence of prayer at home, before the Blessed Sacrament, in nature or wherever that place is so we are able to discover ever new the love of God where, “In the silence He speaks.”
In the silence with the Love of the Lord, may you all be blessed.