Last week I submerged my soul in silence at my annual spiritual retreat. I have learned that in order to hear God I need to get away at least once a year for a few days at a retreat center for solitude, silence and being with him. My time away and my notes in my journal nourish my spirit for many days afterward.
I am a doer and settling my soul in silence and stillness isn’t easy for me. It often feels like I peel off layers of soiled clothing as I settle into the quiet. I have to hand over my concerns, my worldly frantic to do’s and my agenda into God’s hands. I attempt to embrace an attitude of open expectancy.
During our time of lectio divina at the retreat, the leader slowly read three times the story of Jesus’s transfiguration. I just love Peter – his enthusiasm, his direct honesty and his determined desire to do. Peter sees Jesus along with Moses and Elijah and what does he want to do – build a shelter for them. He is doing instead of embracing this sacred instance that he is witnessing. What a moment to behold.
Seeing myself in Peter became my invitation at retreat to follow the spiritual practice of beholding. Of simply gazing at God in silence. Of deep listening. Of watching and pondering my encounter with him.
To behold is to look at something deeply. To “hold” it carefully and deliberately in our attention. It involves stopping, being still, really taking the time to see something as it is.
I wrote about the practice of beholding a few years ago after watching my daughter lovingly watched her newborn daughter.
The practice of beholding God surrounded and steered my retreat.
And I failed often throughout the weekend.
My mind wandered.
I cheated and checked my emails.
I escaped into books.
But I kept coming back.
Beholding slowly transforms us. Our inner mirror is cleansed to reflect God. We become what we gaze upon.
The one who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”
Can I brag about accomplishments at this retreat? No
Can I tell you of new wisdom? No
Can I boast of becoming a spiritual giant? No
I simply spent time with God.
I beheld his smile, his love, his presence.
I gazed at God and felt his loving gaze in return.
And I was changed.
What spiritual practice has nourished you lately?