Today is another snow day! What a nice treat to be quiet and still with the Lord. Sometimes it is nice to get a break from all the running and have some time to quietly catch up on the small things that I have have missed recently. God always gives us what we need. Right now I am enjoying looking onto the usually noisy street and seeing nothing but snow. The quiet is so uncharacteristic in this neighborhood and the occasional snow plow sounds so out of place because of the silence.
Speaking of silence, last night I watched the Oprah special on the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in which they spoke about many things, silence included. It was a wonderful program on those particular sisters and much of what they spoke resonated with my own life as a religious, especially their love for silence and recollection. The sisters said that there was an intense desire to leave the noise of the world for the silence in the heart that loves.
In my own experience of silence, it is last of all a physical reality and first of all a spiritual one. I live in a very noisy, urban neighborhood where silence is almost never physically present. However, the silence of my soul is one that swallows up all the noise of the world in a great offering of love and thanksgiving to the God who made all of us wonderful, noisy people! I often find myself in our beautiful chapel in sweet solitude when I hear a car alarm, horns honking, people yelling across the street, kids playing wall ball on the side of the convent, and those car radios that broadcast outside the car whatever the driver wishes the world to hear, and I smile because I hold all of those people in loving prayer and grateful thanksgiving. Wherever they are going, whatever they are doing, whoever they are I pray that they live with God each and everyday and feel His peace and grace in their lives.
One of the maxims of St. Alphonsus Liguori was "to love solitude, to be able to converse alone with Jesus Christ." I think solitude can be aided by our surrounding environment but most of all it is an interior disposition that grows as we feed our souls desire for quiet, loving, conversation with the Lord. As an apostolic religious, most of my day is spent with the people and sustained by prayer in community and private. Throughout the day though, I find that solitude does not leave me. It is in my single-hearted devotion to God and service of His people that solitude becomes alive. Solitude is acted out through my love and care for my sisters, in my apostolate, and in my interactions with everyone I meet. For myself solitude has become all about the motivation with which I perform all my religious duties. When I am not doing all for the Lord, I live a disunited, dualistic, broken-apart spirituality. I am scattered and unfocused. When I do all for the greater glory of God and the salvation of my soul, the integrity of my person as a religious woman remains intact and I do not leave the presence of my God, no matter where my physical presence is and no matter how much noise surrounds me.
Of course, poor sinner that I am, I fail in keeping this disposition all the time. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the work that needs to be done and I find myself too busy to fertilize the carefully planted seed of solitude. It never completely dies, although I am sure it could, because God's grace has, through no merit of my own, sustained me. That is why I am so thankful to Him for this special snow day. To see His greatness in the natural world, and to be able to contemplate it in the quiet hours of this day is such a great gift to my soul. God always gives us what we need.