Silent retreat

16 Oct

This weekend there was a silent retreat held here at Unity Village. If you’re not familiar with a silent retreat, usually in a group format there will be times of content from a  presenter that is open to discussion, but between activities it is the decision of the participant to remain silent to make room for stillness and clarity. Retreatants have buttons they wear letting those they meet know they are in the silence. The cafeteria knows how to serve them in the silence and it’s all pretty spiffy.

But I work in the bookstore. Retail isn’t a world of silence, it’s a ‘How are you?’ ‘Can I help you find anything?’ How’s the retreat?’ kind of environment. When folks are browsing or checking out we make chit chat, find out where they are from and if it’s their first time to the village.

Yesterday was a different kind of day. Yesterday I got to connect with people in a different way. For the most part, the retreat participants were able to come to the counter with their purchases and then hand over their charge card. No words need be spoken. But it was beautiful the words that were spoken in a real authentic smile and connection of the eyes.

As these dear ones were making a brave journey of the heart, for a few moments I was welcomed on the adventure with a smile that said hello, thank you, have a beautiful day, namaste.

In one of my classes we are learning/practicing pastoral counseling. The thing that continues to be clear to me is that being connected to the other person with your attention, eye contact and body language is what it’s about. Speaking happens some, sure. But what it’s really about is being present with the other person. It is an amazingly powerful feeling to be connected to anther that way. 

And so, while the silent retreat folks were only a third of my customers yesterday, and I made plenty of conversation with the other 2/3’s, the mindful moments of connection with the retreatants will be the ones I hold most dear.

I encourage you dear reader, to take a moment to connect with someone. To pause in a conversation and be comfortable in the silence. Beautiful things will unfold.



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