Good Zeal

Northwest Passage

(Still writing from the Benedictine Spirituality Workshop and Retreat [BSWR] at Annunciation Monastery in North Dakota…)

This is Lewis and Clark territory. The two explorers traveled the swift-flowing Missouri through these parts in search of the Northwest Passage. They didn’t find the fabled passage, but they did encounter the Missouri, the Columbia, the Yellowstone, and so much more. And then, the ocean…

On Monday evening, a week of silent retreat will begin for those of us attending BSWR. Each of us will meet daily with a retreat director, but otherwise we will be wrapped in a robe of silence as we spend sustained time with God exploring regions of the heart.

A silent retreat is always a journey of sorts. You get in your boat and push away from shore. You may imagine what you hope to discover, but you cannot know where a journey into silence will lead. You’ve got to be willing to go where God takes you and find what’s there to be found, even if it’s not where or what you expected. The director’s supportive, and occasionally challenging, presence helps make sense of the terrain.

As I write this on Saturday evening, I am sitting on a bluff above the Missouri, watching the sun make its own silent passage. I’m thinking about Lewis and Clark. I’m imagining them covered by these same skies, this same setting sun, this same prairie nighttime. Like them, my gaze is northwest. My heart, though, is inclined toward God, and soon I will begin my own silent journey, opening my sails to the Holy Spirit, the very breath of God upon the waters of the deep.

Postscript: This blog will be silent for about the next week and a half. In the meantime, you can keep up with monastery happenings on our Facebook page (Friends of the Benedictine Sisters of Cullman, Alabama).

I should add that this is not just Lewis and Clark territory. It is the land of the Mandan and Hidatsa, coyote and fox, bird and buffalo, immigrant and native, and all who have sought life and breath here on the bluffs of the Missouri River.

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