This past weekend I co-led our annual Oblate retreat with Sister Lucy, our Oblate director, on the theme of simplicity. Being with my fellow Oblates and supporting one another on the Benedictine way is always tremendous nourishment for my spirit. Life has been so full these last few months and now I get to step into a simpler time and space myself. My heart has been drawn to explore new ways of simplifying beyond just doing with less things, but to consider the way my thoughts and desires can clutter my heart.
I often find my creative energy drawn in a multiplicity of different directions. For example, I love visual art expression and I want to learn calligraphy and make collages, create altered books and take an icon workshop. All of these are wonderful things, but I have begun to consider what might happen if I committed myself single-heartedly to just a few select paths for this next season and opened myself to what they have to teach me.
What might happen if I became a disciple of photography? What if for the next season I focused my energy on learning as much as possible from dedicating my longing for visual expression to this medium and put away the paints and glue for now? What might I discover in opening my heart even more deeply to seeing with the eyes of the heart and allow this practice to teach me new things?
What if I were to become a disciple of writing? What if I surrendered myself to the flow of words onto the page and followed their longings until I emerged on the other side? How might writing be my teacher in these days about what happens when I follow a thread to new discoveries? I might encounter myself as immersed in an ancient lineage of writers who realized that words can transform.
Perhaps I might become a disciple of the body and allow daily walks to take on even more profound meaning. I might discover new connection to pilgrims across time who have allowed their feet to carry them across sacred ground. I might hear in my body’s familiar and faithful movements a new invitation.
The teacher who is especially calling me right now is silence. With so many good words uttered and written these last few months, I am craving a wide sea of wordless moments. I want to become a disciple of silence and hear in that shimmering soundlessness the voice of the one who whispers in stillness, whose singing vibrates in stones, who out of the silence calls forth a radical commitment of which I do not yet know the shape.