Silent Retreat

Sunset, Nevada high desert

Silence.  Solitude.  Space.  Each time my husband and I return home from the Nevada Desert, I feel full of grace.  I love the high desert where, as I gaze upon hundreds of acres, my thoughts depart my mind in droves as if they, too, find the prolific space irresistable.  I don’t fully comprehend the corresponding loss of pressure in my head until I arrive home with a clear mind and full of grace.  Grace: the ability to listen without reacting, to exercise compassion, to rest in God’s love and to reflect that love in this world without speaking an excess word.

Five months have passed since my husband and I last visited the desert–months in which he nearly died from contiguous attacks of a rare disease, he and I both went hungry, and I began to prattle.  At first the prattle seemed innocent enough but as it bloomed it grew flecked with snarkiness and once held an unkind remark.  The unkindness echoed in my mind for days.  It distressed me deeply.  It slowed the tempo of my tongue but did not halt the words.  Grace is what I craved and needed.  Why couldn’t I find it?

Never once did it occur to me that, without the desert to decompress, unarticulated fears of losing my husband–utter devestation, unending loss–had mutated to prattle.  What finally cured me was not something which happened but something which did not.  On several occasions during my weeks of prattling, I said to my husband, “I can’t stop talking.  Aren’t I driving you crazy?”  And each time he replied, “No. I love the sound of your voice.  I wait to hear it.”  But one night last week I was looking for my glass of iced tea.  I circled the room where my husband was watching T.V.  I asked him several times: “Do you see my tea?”  He didn’t reply until the third or forth inquiry when it seemed as if he were hearing me for the very first time. 

No corrective measure on God’s part could have been more effective. It was such a gracious way for God to remind me that my husband had been spared, that he is here, that he waits to hear my voice–and to convey to me that if I choose to continue to prattle, it will render my voice unheard.

Now the desert is before me, visible everywhere; I step out onto the plains, take a good long look and prepare for my silent retreat.