On the second day of the retreat, we started the day with a morning walk, in which we were to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of nature, and therein enjoy the presence of God.
words can't describe how beautiful that morning was (although i'm gonna try). before even opening my eyes, the first thing that caught up my senses was the sound of birdsong. it was as if the birds were so happy the day had begun, they were bursting with music. the coolness of the highland air was refreshing and invigorating. the trees stood; tall, green, mighty, and ancient. they covered and adorned the hills, which were mightier and more ancient still!
i revelled in the fresh smell of pine sap, which i think is one of the heavenliest smells on earth. the very greenness of the moss and the grass - which is normal really, for if not green then what colour should they be? but nevertheless - the very greenness of the moss and the grass was wonderful to me. the sky was a light, airy blue, with almost intangible wisps of cloud. i thought to myself, 'if i were a better scout i'd remember what kind of cloud that is."
the beauty of creation all around me inspired me to re-read Genesis chapter One. and indeed, i declared together with God, "it is good!" and, "it is very good!" =)
at about this time sms-es and calls started coming in, wishing me a happy and blessed birthday. so as i was contemplating God's creation of the world, i was also reminded that this was the day God created me! and my heart was full to overflowing with thankfulness; to the One who had freely given me the good gift of existence, and created all good and beautiful things for us to enjoy, and gave us the senses and faculties to enjoy them! =)
however, in the midst of all this joy and thankfulness, there was also a little bit of struggle going on. you see, in this retreat, one of the spiritual disciplines we were to practice was silence. now, there are different degrees of silence. outer silence is easy - just don't open your mouth and make noise. anyone can maintain outer silence, though perhaps for differing lengths of time. inner silence, now, there's the rub. to maintain inner silence is to "not think our own thoughts", and to "empty our hearts of our own preoccupations and distractions, and fill our hearts with God's presence".
now, that certainly sounds very nice. but how does it work out, practically?!? "i shouldn't be thinking my own thoughts." - oops, that's a thought! "eh, i shouldn't be thinking about not thinking my own thoughts." - shoot, that's another thought! "maybe i should write down this struggle/difficulty in my journal" - that's a thought too!
but not to panic, i told myself, i'm just a beginner and this is my first ever silent retreat. i'll take things slow and learn to be silent before God - to let my words be few. He will teach me. and over the course of the retreat, although it was still sometimes a struggle, He did. =)