Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Words and Silence by Anne Booth

By the time this blog post is published I will be nearly at the end of a 7 day silent retreat at  St. Beuno’s retreat Centre  in North Wales. It is the 14th November and I have just arrived. The silence doesn’t officially start until after 8 pm, but I am already feeling challenged as I have been gently encouraged, not only not to talk, but not to go on social media. It isn’t that I am a particularly noisy person, but somehow I hadn’t realised how much I need to talk, to go on social media, to facebook my children and check up on my family. I don’t know what to do with myself. Right now, 7 days seems a long, long time to fill.

The thing is, the reason why I signed up voluntarily to do this retreat is that inside me is too noisy. There are too many competing voices and concerns - ideas for books, worries about the future, regrets about the past, insecurity about the present. I log on and read all about the whole world, I sign and share petitions, I send and receive emails, I watch TV and I talk to people in real life and I don’t stop to listen to the silence. But I am sure I should - I am sure that I have things to learn.

I hope I can post this tonight before the retreat, as there is nothing holy about letting people down and I have just remembered about my blog post (!) - but then I hope I have the nerve to hold to the silence and listen to the stories which may emerge.  I will meet with a director every day, but the rest of the time I will be on my own. In the silence there will be stories coming out of my own life - perhaps they may become changed in the future into published ones, or just acknowledged and honoured and left. I don’t know. I hope this time of silence will help me speak - verbally or in the written word in my children's  books - with more truth and honesty and compassion. I hope it will help me to have more integrity and truth in my life and writing - and also to uncover more of the hidden joy in life and pass it on in my books. I have just discovered that Gerald Manley Hopkins wrote a great deal of his poetry in this very house - so even though right now  I do feel full of trepidation, I will cling to that. I've already noticed lots of birds outside my window - blue tits and robins and blackbirds to name but three - and there are lovely grounds to wander in.  See you on the other side!


Joan Lennon said...

Please let us know how it's gone for you! And to be in the same house as Gerard Manley Hopkins - how wonderful!

Penny Dolan said...

A silent retreat sounds a very brave choice. I do hope you are having the time you need to listen to everything in your head, especially after your last year. Knowing that Gerard Manley Hopkins lived there too must make St Beuno's very special. All good wishes for now, and on your return.

Sue Purkiss said...

I hope it goes well!

Rowena House said...

What a special thing to do. It will be fascinating to hear about your experiences.