One of the things that has impacted me the most in the past year was my visit to the Cistercian Monastery last summer. There was a part of me that didn't want to go, dreaded the retreat, yet I went because I had committed to it. As I wrote upon my return, the silence of the monastery allowed God into my soul in a way I had not experienced before. He called me into the desert precisely so that I could hear him and be present with him without all the distractions of the world.
I find that I often long for that solitude and silence, the regulated time for prayer, and the restriction of my activities to either Sacred Scripture or The Cistercian Way (outside of the Liturgy of the Hours.)
That retreat was not filled with consolations and good feelings. But it was characterized by a sense of peacefulness I'd never found anywhere else. That is not to say it is where God has called me; just the opposite. It was while I was there that He helped me to understand that He was making no demand, was not demanding that I "make a decision", only that I come into a deeper relationship with Him. When I'd first arrived, every fibre of my being was screaming, "I'm not ready!" And so gently and quietly Our Lord said to me in the solitude of the chapel, "I know. That's why you're here."
Ever since that blessed retreat, I have often looked at the picture on the cover of the Cistercian vocation booklet. I have remembered fondly the little room (not properly a "cell") I was in in the guest quarters. I recall how at night I looked up to see how the nightlight and things around it caused the light to project the shape of a dove upon the ceiling, as if the Holy Spirit hovered directly above me as I slept.
All this should not be taken to mean that I have a Cistercian Vocation...far from it! At this time, I actually believe I do not have a religious Vocation at all.
Advent is supposed to be a time of preparation, of introspection, of readying ourselves for the coming Savior. We are to think about death, judgment, heaven and hell even as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.
Yet because of classes and finals and the craziness of work, I really haven't had the time to retreat into this time of preparation. Even when I DO have the time, I find that I quickly become engaged in other distractions. It hit me hard this morning that what I really need is to "get away" from all of these things. I feel like I'm being pulled into pieces by all the demands upon me, especially those which I have caused and place upon my self.
It is because of this that I have made a decision to close comments on the blog, probably until Christmas. I find that as I receive comments, I "feel" I need to respond in a timely manner, even if perhaps I'd rather sit down and finish reading some book. Sometimes the combox discussions can be lengthy and can lead on and on, and usually I welcome this. In fact, I STILL do. However, perhaps it would be best to simply "shut down" for awhile.
I may, and will probably continue posting, but will not be allowing comments. Please know that I do welcome email, which is linked on my profile. I ask only that if you do send one with regard to either an ongoing discussion or a new post, realize I may not choose to respond at all, or if I do, it may not be timely.
I look forward to spending more time in absolute silence, without the self-inflicted "demands" of the blog to distract me from something far more important than my own piddly writings and tenacious opinions.
Again, comments will be closed but feel free to email me. I will respond as I can.