Monday, August 27, 2012

After the Ugly Oyster, a new beginning for silence

Wernersville Tree ~ as I approached 

Having left the arts and crafts pub in Reading, it was a direct route to the Jesuit Center but a road not yet travelled.  I would be filled with thoughts of riches and poverty and how crossing one boundary can lead to such radical changes as I simply drove out of Reading into West Reading.  Do people drive this everyday? Do they get used to it?

The brain will get used to silence.  Thirty hours in I woke up and felt it.  I had made the transition.

I am not a fan of superlatives... Questions like who is your favorite band can baffle me.  I used to be able to say I never read a lot on retreats.  But I fell into the writings of (let me be safe here) one of the most influential authors in my life, Frederick Buechner.  

I came across his book The Clown in The Belfry as I weeded my bookcase of spiritual writings recently.  It is a collection of essays and sermons thrown together for the sake of making a book.  Not my most favorite thing.  But I hadn't read it.  

It proved to be a path into the many ways he has influenced my faith.  By the time I woke up 30 hours into the retreat, I realized that I only had three chapters left.  It made sense ~  one for that morning and one each for the last two mornings of the retreat.  I could not have planned it better.

As I look back at the book, I see that the last essay I read, before I woke up feeling the silence, had ended with this paragraph.  And this may be the coolest thing ever ~ 

Let us instead tell a story which is the story about every one of us,  It is a story about a pig, and a fox, and an ass under his holy and appalling burden.  It is the story about a mouth pushed crooked, about a voice breaking.  Let the rest be Christ's silence.

Wernersville Tree ~ about to step inside


  1. I just learned about this beech tree a couple of years ago, having spent many happy hours up a tree overlooking the fields.

    It sounds as if you had a silent companion, who yet had words for you in this retreat. Mysterious grace!

    1. Michelle ~ I saw a woman climb into it last spring. The photos from inside the tree are still coming. Thanks for the card!

  2. may there always be a tree...

    1. Nance ~ yes indeed. One I loved at the center took ill and was taken down.

  3. I'm glad you found your "cone of certainty" in the silence. That is one massive tree! When hubby and I took a walk yesterday morning, we stopped to hug a favorite, very old live oak along the way. Every time a storm approaches, we get nervous about whether it will survive another one. Hurricane Ivan took a toll on it, but it still hangs in there.

    1. Walker ~ I guess I can say with some certainty that I dig trees. ;')


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