How to spend a day of solitude and silence

We came this past Sunday to the “Contemplative Tradition” in our series on how various spiritual traditions can nourish our faith.  (You can listen to the message HERE.)  Spending extended time alone with God is key.  But sometimes, we don’t know how to do that.  Here’s a simple outline and suggestions for a day long retreat.  

Find a way to spend a day alone, where you will not talk, or hear others talk.
     Ask a friend who may be away if you can stay in their home.
     Or schedule a time to go to a retreat center like the
          Transfiguration Spirituality Center (Glendale)
          Pinecroft House of Peace (Mt. Airy)
          Jesuit Spirituality Center (Milford)
     Or stay at home on a day when you know no one else will be there.

Turn off everything that might interrupt your time: cell phones, landlines, radios, TV, computers, tablets.

Begin by spending an hour doing nothing.
     Take a walk. Wander. Listen to the birds, look at the clouds.
     Pay attention to your breathing. Notice what is around you.
     Or light a candle representing the presence of Christ, and sit in a rocking chair, and rock.
     Listen to the sounds of the room. The sounds of your heart.
     DON’T think about or plan the rest of your day. Or what you will do tomorrow.

Pray one of these Psalms: 8, 23, 42, 91, 103, 139, 145.
Or a different Psalm to which God might direct you.
     Turn each verse into a prayer.
     Speak each verse directly to God.

Choose one of these passages to pray.
     The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-11)
     Abiding in Christ (John 15:1-17)
     The Christian Life (Romans 12)
     The Mind of Christ (Philippians 2:1-11)
     Growing in Godliness (2 Peter 1:1-11)
     Heavenly Worship (Revelation 5)

If you haven’t already, do something physical. Take a walk. Do yoga or some simple exercises. If you began your day with a walk, do nothing. Sit in a chair. Notice what is around you. Take a nap.

Sometime before lunch, take some minutes to write down anything that comes to you from the morning. What you are feeling, what you are wondering, any insights that have come to you. And if can’t stop thinking about things you “have to do,” write a to-do list and then put it away somewhere until later.

Eat lunch. 
     In silence.
     Without reading anything, or doing a crossword puzzle. Think about your food. Think about eating.
     “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Or, if you are able, fast during lunch.
     Think about what you would normally be eating.
     Think about hunger. Your hunger; other’s hunger.
     Pray for those who might be hungry right now.
     “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

After lunch, repeat any of what you did in the morning.

If you haven’t already taken a nap, take a nap.
     If you have trouble falling asleep, think about why that might be.
     If you sleep longer than you expected, think about why that might be.

Have a conversation with God. Out loud.

At the end of your day of retreat, reflect over your day. Write in a journal if it helps.
     Q. When throughout the day did God seem closest to you?
     Q. What aspect of God’s character or nature did you experience?
     Q. What did you discover about God? About yourself?
     Q. Where there times you felt nothing? Felt an absence, an emptiness?
           What was that like? What may God be showing your through that?

At the end of your day, close by praying the Lord’s Prayer – 2 and 3 words at a time.
Or close with the 23rd Psalm. Pause after each phrase.

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