Silent Retreat at St. Meinrad’s Archabbey

By Leah Blachaniec, Class of 2016

Throughout the past year, God has really brought the idea of resting, or simply being in His presence to the forefront of my mind. The past semester especially, I have encountered Psalm 46:10 in more ways than any other time in my life. I have heard this verse throughout my life so many times, I can recite it in a heartbeat – “Be still and know that I am God.” But, I have never really understood what it means to truly be still. I have had countless reminders to take time to rest, yet I do not place enough priority on this concept given I have so much to do. However, this past weekend on the silent retreat at St. Meinrad’s, I had a glimpse of the rest my heart has desired, rest long overdue.

Honestly, about a week away from the retreat I was not looking forward to it at all. I was not sure about giving up that much time of my weekend, and I would also be missing my wing retreat. However, as the retreat grew nearer, I started to realize that it would be such a great opportunity for rest and I looked forward to being able to set everything aside and embrace stillness, silence and solitude. During the retreat, I was able to push everything out of my mind and truly be present with the Lord, which I have not consciously done for a while. The silence was not uncomfortable, and I actually wish it could have been longer. I was able to read my Bible, journal, pray and listen to God without regard to time or other commitments and responsibilities. I was able to see that a relationship with God does not always require words, and that sometimes He wants us to just stop and Listen.

saint-meinrad_archabbey_goulding-wood_lgThroughout the year in pondering the theme of vocation and calling, I have realized that my calling it not something I do, but rather it is who I am. Each and every day I have the opportunity to become more and more who God is calling me to be. I have realized, that part of that calling is to enter into God’s presence in stillness, and to listen to His still small voice so that I can discern where He is leading me. The retreat provided time out of my busy life to put into practice the concept of stillness and understand how it truly relates to calling.

Silence and solitude are both important disciplines that I wish to incorporate into my life more. Even just in general, I seek to be more disciplined spiritually. I would consider myself a disciplined person in most areas of my life, yet Henri Nouwen’s words challenged me as he said discipline is “the effort to create some space in which God can act.” After reading that shortly after my silence began, I made the conscious effort to create space in which God could act during the retreat. During my time of silence, I was able to enter deeper into myself and deal with pain and struggles that I have pushed aside with lack of time to really engage myself. Although it was hard, it was not unmet with a greater understanding on the importance of dependence on God.

imagegen.ashxThrough silence and solitude, I was able to see that God is enough for me – He is my Shepherd, I shall not want. By going away to the monastery and retreat center at St. Meinrad’s, physically leaving Taylor helped to remove me from the distractions of my busy life that keep me from creating space in which God can act. Although I cannot physically distance myself from my life here in coming back to campus, I have intentionally started each day with a brief time of silence and creating space in which God can act by getting up earlier and spending time in His word. I have tasted and seen that He is good, and I have a greater understanding of what it means to be still and know that He is God.