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Life Lesson:
Where Wisdom Hides

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A Silent Retreat was being offered at the San Francisco Theological Seminary. Here was an opportunity to leave the distractions of everyday life for a brief time, and discover a deeper and broader view of life. All this in a quiet, beautiful setting with excellent guides.

My eyes widened with the possibilities ahead.

  • Was I up to it?
  • Could I do it?
  • Could I be quiet for 5 ½ days?
One part of me was as excited as a child, inwardly dancing, thinking of the fun of discovery in the coming days. Another part of me stood aside, wide-eyed, with more than just a little apprehension and saying, "Joanne...you haven't been quiet one whole day in your entire life!"

I chuckled to myself, remembering the nickname our neighbors gave me as a child: "Chatrabota." (Chatterbox.) Wouldn't they get a kick out of seeing me now? "Impossible," they might even say. Definitely, this was going to be a challenge.

San Francisco Theological Seminary

The outline of the buildings of San Francisco Theological Seminary gave me a peaceful greeting as I drove onto the grounds. After parking the car, I leaned back and breathed a long sigh, reassuring myself, "God is here, God is here."

Thirty-two retreatrants, some a little apprehensive, gathered together for the Orientation Session that evening. After all the introductions, many helpful hints were given to help us transist from a hectic, busy life to a contemplative one—for some, no easy task.

  • Be useless - Do nothing!
  • Be open, receptive.
  • Fish: Drop a line into the water and wait.
  • Live in the present.
  • Walk softly.
  • Slow down—you're not going anywhere anyway.
  • Silence is dismantling.
  • Be prepared to be dismantled.
"Brain waves usually register at 20 cycles per second when engaging in normal activities," said one of the leaders. "We want to slow you down to 10-12 cycles per second. It will be like moving in slow motion, and you will be able to see things you have never noticed before.

With a twinkle in his eye and a wry smile, the pastor continued, "The best way to slow down is to close the mouth."

"God is here,
   God is here."
I was very fidgety the first day or so. Passing people in the halls and walkways without greeting them seemed awkward to me. As the days wore on, silence became more comfortable. The only responsibility I had was to slow down and put myself in a passive mode. For a controlling person, this can be an act of courage! I kept reminding myself, "God is here. God is here."
On the third day came a breakthrough. Forced to disconnect from others, I became more aware of my own thoughts and feelings. I discovered that I had been afraid to be quiet and alone. I was uncomfortable about looking and listening to the messages within. What if nothing good was there!? What if I was just a shallow, foolish person? What if I was a coward? What if........ "Too late," I cried, "'Pandora's Box' is opening, look and see what's inside."

I put my hand over my mouth to cover a smile as I discovered with glee, that a very creative, sensitive, person lived there. I found a deeply thoughtful person who was understanding and patient. This wasn't "Pandora's Box" but a Treasure Chest. I could hardly wait to be alone with me to see what in the world I would think of next!

Quietness, first found only outside in my surroundings, began to move inwardly. Apprehension and fear were being replaced with peace and wonderment. They settled within and made themselves at home. Ahhhhhh...here lies wisdom, at the Center, where God and I dwell together in harmony. Alone at Sunset
From the Living Bible
The Benefits of Following Wisdom - Proverbs 2:2-10
If you want better insight and discernment, and are searching for them as you would for lost money or hidden treasure, then wisdom will be given you, and knowledge of God himself; you will soon learn the importance of reverence for the Lord and of trusting him.

For the Lord grants wisdom! His every word is a treasure of knowledge and understanding. He grants good sense to the godly—his saints. He is their shield, protecting them and guarding their pathway. He shows how to distinguish right from wrong, how to find the right decision every time. For wisdom and truth will enter the very center of your being, filling your life with joy.

Star

Retreat Resources
Companions on the Inner Way Conference
San Francisco Theological Seminary holds their annual; 5 ½-day retreat at Sierra Madre, California.

The retreat will be led by The Reverend Howard Rice, Professor Emeritus. For more information call Ann Pope, 415-258-6583.

Women at the Well, Menlo Park, California
933 Santa Cruz Avenue, Menlo Park.
Drop in for a mini-retreat of your own. Enjoy the quiet of the resource room or the freshly landscaped backyard. Self-guided retreats are available or bring your own book or journal.

Call the Center 650-328-8966 for information or a Retreat Brochure or email: WomenatWel@aol.com

San Damiano Retreat, Danville, California
For a schedule of retreats call (925) 837-9141.

Mercy Center, Burlingame, California
For a schedule of retreats call (415) 340-7474.

Hesed Community, 3745 Elston Avenue, Oakland, California
For a schedule of retreats call Sister Barbara (510) 482-8769, BHazz@aol.com


Lessons learned the hard way:

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Updated
August 20, 2001

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