Our good friend Catherine Doherty invites us to an ever deeper experience of solitude and silence:
If we are to witness to Christ in today’s marketplaces where there are constant demands on our whole person we need silence. If we are to be always available, not only physically, but by empathy, sympathy, friendship, understanding, and boundless caritas, we need silence. To be able to give joyous, unflagging hospitality, not only of house and food, but of mind, heart, body and soul, we need silence.
True silence is the search of man for God.
True silence is a suspension bridge that a soul in love with God builds to cross the dark, frightening gullies of its own mind, the strange chasms of temptation, the depthless precipices of its own fears that impede its way to God.
True silence is the speech of lovers.
This silence, then, will break forth in a charity that overflows in the service of the neighbor without counting the cost. It will witness to Christ anywhere, always. Availability will become delightsome and easy, for in each person the soul will see the face of her Love. Hospitality will be deep and real, for a silent heart is a loving heart, and a loving heart is a hospice to the world.
This simple, prayerful silence can and should be everybody’s silence. It belongs to every Christian who loves God.
Deserts, silence, solitudes are not necessarily places but states of mind and heart. They will be small solitudes, little deserts, tiny pools of silence, but the experience they will bring, if we are disposed to enter them, may be as exultant and as holy as the one God himself entered. For it is God who makes solitude, deserts and silences holy.
Consider the solitude of walking from the subway train or bus to your home in the evening, when the streets are quieter and there are few passerby. Consider the solitude that greets you when you enter your room to change your office or working clothes to more comfortable, homey ones. Think of the solitudes afforded by such humble tasks as housecleaning, ironing sewing. Think of the solitude of a car in which we return from work, riding bumper to bumper on a crowded highway. This too can be a “point of departure” to a desert, silence, solitude.
But our hearts, minds and souls must be attuned, desirous, aware of these moments of solitude that God gives us. To be so attuned we must lose our superstition of time. God laughs at time, for if our souls are open to him and available to him, he can invite them in, change them, lift them, transform them, in one instant! He can say to someone driving that car bumper to bumper, “I will lead you into solitude and there I shall speak to your heart.” (Hos. 2:14)
Extracts from “Poustinia: Encountering God in Silence, Solitude and Prayer” by Catherine Doherty