Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The God of Silence

The year was 1999. I was twenty-four (24) years old and a fresh law graduate when I first went on a five-day silent retreat, upon the invitation of my Legal Ethics professor, Atty. Vyva Aguirre, who is part of the Notre Dame de Vie secular institute. I heard about their Holy Week retreat then from Ted, who said it helped him deal with the monumental challenges of handling the Leo Echegaray death penalty case, but I only went on that retreat when I was ready to be silent and to hear the things I was about to face, i.e., the upcoming bar review and examinations that I would take.

I rode, together with Ma'am Vyva and another member of the NDV, who is a professor at the U.P. School of Economcis, to Mother of Life in Novaliches. We rode in the car of yet another professor who was going to attend the retreat with his wife, and who taught me Econometrics (Economics with Calculus: something I enjoyed before but cannot for the life of me recall nowadays). I thought I was going to be alone in that retreat, but there I was in the car with three of my professors.

The surprises did not stop there. During the first meal, which was dinner, I was approached by a teacher from Manila Science High School, the Journalism adviser for the freshmen and sophomores, and she too is part of the NDV. I could not help but think that God was surrounding me with such a great cloud of witnesses.

I then embarked on a journey to discover something new about Jesus, from Holy Wednesday to Easter Sunday. I was surprised at the intimacy that silence brought me. My co-retreatants and I respected each other's space, although we had some interactions during the sessions and discussions. I went through depths of despair from Good Friday to Holy Saturday, face-to-face with my questions at why Jesus suffered, and lifting up to Him my own heartaches, fears, hopes, and prayers.

We had Salubong on Saturday night and it was tremendously joyful! We had been singing beautiful songs for several days, but they reserved the most festive ones to commemorate Mary's rejoicing at the sight of her Risen Son. Inside, however, I was reluctant to break the silence. I enjoyed the total focus that Jesus and I had on each other. One by one, my co-retreatants met my eyes, smiled at me, and initiated conversations. I met single professionals, married couples, and college students all searching for a deeper encounter with the Lord and all enriched by that time of silence.

There was one song that we listened to during that retreat that struck me. It was love at first hearing. We were given its lyrics and I read in it a conversation with Jesus. The NDV have a Carmelite spirituality and that particular song was especially written, I later learned, for the Carmelites.

Bukas Palad Music Ministry recently recorded the song with an updated arrangement. I bought the tape of the same title (and not the CD, for it's 1/2 the price and anyway I don't have a CD player in my father's car) last Saturday and have been rewinding it to the first song ever since.

The God of Silence

The God of silence beckons me
To journey to my heart
Where He awaits
O Lord, I hear You calling tenderly
To You I come to gaze
At the beauty of Your face I cannot see

To rest in Your embrace I cannot feel
To dwell in Your love hurting but sweet
To be with You; to glimpse eternity

God of night, fount of all my delight.
Show Your light . . . that my heart, like Yours, burn bright.

Be still the torment of the night
Will not encumber you, if you believe
My child this darkness isn't emptiness
For here I mold your heart
Unto My image painfully you long to see

The self you yearn to be, but fear to know
The world from which you flee in Me find home
All these I give you, if you remain in Me

I am ever here
My child, you need not fear
The dark will set you free
And bring your heart to Me

The God of silence beckons me
To journey to my heart
Where He awaits me.

This song is my prayer these days. I hope I could go on a longer silent retreat now. Eight days, can I make it? I am not scared of the silence anymore. There are new things that I am going through and new revelations are in store, I am certain of that.

I want to journey to my heart where the God of silence awaits me.

Thank you, Bukas Palad, Ma'am Vyva, and Notre Dame de Vie.

1 comment:

Ryx said...

thank you for the gift of lyrics, ella. i also love this song. keep the faith.