By Jodel Lutchman
For many of us in T&T, Ash Wednesday crept up on us unannounced, and we didn’t even realise it, all because there was no Carnival Monday and Tuesday. Welp! If you’re one such person, then you probably had a late start to the 2021 Lenten season, if any start at all for that matter, because you didn’t take a moment to reflect on how you would approach it. After all, if the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t cause enough confusion, no Carnival certainly didn’t help. If you’ve been unable to immerse yourself into the season, all hope is not lost. I want to offer you two very simple, yet powerful suggestions.
Usually, during our Lenten retreats at the parish, school, and/or office, we hear about abstinence and/or taking on something– abstain from social media, from chocolate or anything that can distract us from God and perhaps become a kind of idol in our lives. One of the things that we do not think about is the idol of busyness.
We live in a world today that hails the busy life as a type of status symbol; if you’re not busy, then you’re not important. For the older generation, it might be the numerous errands and meetings and the task of getting the kids to and from their extra-curricular activities. For the younger generations, there’s this bizarre idea that if you have a million unread chats on WhatsApp and The Gram (Instagram), then you must be popular, and that somehow boosts your ego and reflects your social status (there are several issues involved here but that’s for another article).
I wish to offer you abstinence from busyness and take on silence. Very recently, I had the privilege of doing a silent retreat for three days! I asked a nun to keep me in prayer as I had reached a state of stagnation in my prayer life and in other areas of my life. That’s when she invited me to do the silent retreat. My first reaction was like… “Lady, are you crazy? I told you that I feel like nothing is happening in my life, and here you are now inviting me to spend the last 3 days of my vacation to DO NOTHING … Like… That making any sense?”
But oh yes! It made the most sense. To cut a long story short, I left the retreat, and, once again, my senses were restored as I was able to hear God’s voice and see God’s hand moving in my life and directing me. The impact was unimaginable! The nothingness provided me the opportunity to simply be and forget all worries. I had the space to reflect and just breathe.
The Rosary Monastery offers silent retreats to individuals and small groups (accommodates up to 12 by appointment only, with no overnight stay)
For bookings and more information contact: Julia Gomes 683-5942
Silent retreats are also available at the Emmaus Centre, Arima. Contact (868) 667-5365 or (868) 667-3576
I’m not talking about praying the rosary or listening to spiritual talks on YouTube; these are all very good and have their rightful place in our prayer life and spirituality. However, they can lend to the busyness and distract us from some great thing that God may be trying to do in our lives. Take the
downtime to clear your mind and become conscious of God’s presence around you like the trees and their fruits, the birds of the air, the dogs and the wind. Focus on your senses, your ability to breathe, see, hear, touch, smell, and taste. Notice, too, that I did not say to spend the nothingness in offering petitions. Surely you can offer them up for a short time, but you would want to avoid replacing the physical busyness with mental busyness. It also is NOT an invitation to sleep, so don’t lie in your bed to do it.
Yes, I went on a retreat, but you can also create moments of silence in your every day life. Try these:
· Instead of the video call on WhatsApp, sit in the yard in prayerful silence.
· Instead of an hour and a half at gym, you can do an hour and spend the other 30 minutes being still and recognising God’s loving presence which surrounds you.
· Instead of going to lime, spend the time in prayerful silence.
· Take some time at the office, eat, then take the rest of your lunch hour to be quiet and alone (No WhatsApp, IG, Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube etc).
· While driving, switch off the radio, no music, no rosary – just silence.
Essentially, you can cook, exercise, shower, sit, eat and relax, all in silence. However, the best is for you to take time to do nothing and BE in silence.
My prayer for you is that just as my signal with God was restored while I spent time doing nothing, you too will experience the profound impact that prayerful silence can have amidst the nothingness.