Today I heard of another black man who was shot by police. Thankfully he was not killed. We have also heard of black people shooting police officers. It is too easy to say, “This has to stop!” We might as well say that the Niagara Falls has to stop. For that to happen big changes have to happen way upstream of the falls to alter the flow of water. It is also so of the violence we have been hearing about. Society is deeply flawed and the flaws are our own. If we were to live with the generous love that Jesus modelled our worlds would be so much different. Jesus taught us that loving our enemies was more effective than hating them. Jesus said that we should lay our lives down for the sake of our neighbours. Somehow we are all neighbours to those police officers and black men – 6 degrees of separation… The change can begin with me.
Tomorrow I am going to begin an 8 day silent retreat – at Loyola House, probably with about 40 other people. We give each other the silence and so tune out the noise of our busy lives. This takes a couple of days and then we can listen to the silence. The silence is full of sound. On one of the many walking trails you cross a creek. You can hear the melody of the water, the rustling dance of the leaves, the song of the birds. That is all great but the sweetest thing is that I hear God speaking to me through scriptures and the spiritual director who I meet with every day. I hear God speaking to me about my life, the past, the present and the future.
We can give ourselves silence every day if we want to. How wonderful to actually hear God speaking to you. We give ourselves silence by stopping everything we are doing for 10 minutes or more, turning off our phone notifications and sitting in a quiet place at our home or work. We can tune in to God by saying very simple prayers again and again until we drill down to God. Prayers like the Lord’s Prayer and the “Jesus” prayer: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,’ constantly repeated until we feel that we are so close to God that we could hear if God spoke in a whisper. Silence is an adventure, God is the destination who transforms us.