[By Regis University Assistant Professor of the School of Education and Counseling, Dr. Vicki Caruana, Ph.D]
One week of silence.
Ponder what that means to someone who is an auditory learner and who processes what she learns through words.
Mid-July brought with it horrific high temperatures and an opportunity for me to “retreat.” I arrived at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat House in Sedalia, Colorado not knowing what to expect and if I could even afford to be away from my faculty job for an entire week. All I knew was that I was weary and broken-hearted and that maybe, just maybe this week would refresh me.
I’ve been writing all summer in this blog about finding rest and renewal and I finally had the chance to experience it for myself. Looking back on what I heard in the silence of that retreat, I discovered that we do tend to find what we are looking for.
It’s not unlike when we drive. The car goes where our eyes look. I was looking for hope; and that is exactly what I found in Sedalia in the silence.
Part of my weariness was due to feeling a great deal of pressure to get done today what is needed for tomorrow, but should have been done yesterday.
We are going through a great deal of transition in CPS and particularly within my school (School of Education & Counseling). I, along with many of my colleagues, am going through a transformative process. Transformation often begins with a disorienting dilemma (Mezirow, 2000). We are faced with changing direction and reconsidering the status quo. We want this change to happen and be over with quickly. As much as we prefer to rip off the band-aid in an effort to avoid what we perceive as slow torture, what I learned in the silence is that there is value in the “slow work of God” (de Chardin, n.d.).
We are engaged in a “constant struggle to change the direction of our lives from preoccupation with our own security to letting God be our only security” (Hughes, 2008). How do we trust the slow process of God when everyone around us is telling us to hurry up?
After the silence and upon returning to the world, that was my question. Taking time to reflect on my own reactions and responses to what I perceived as “trouble” taught me much about how I walk in this world. It took the silence for me to hear where I struggle and where I fail. And in that acknowledgment of my failure I found grace. I found hope. Hughes goes on to explain that “the answer is in the pain and no human state is ever hopeless.” My situation, your situation, is not hopeless.
Remember that the result of transformation is a new life. Therein lies hope. Below is a poem shared with us on the Jesuit Colleague Retreat* that really spoke to me in the silence. Maybe these words will speak to you as well.
Trust in the Slow Work of God
Above all, trust in the slow work of God
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow.
Let them shape themselves without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time - that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will – will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. (1881 – 1955)
*The Jesuit Colleague Retreat is hosted every other year. Plan on attending in 2014.Can’t wait? There are a variety of silent retreats offered at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat House throughout the year. Seek out the silence – and you will find hope.
Hughes, G. (2008). The God of surprises. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing.
Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, John, and Sons Publishing.
Dr. Vicki Caruana, Ph.D is an assistant professor of education at Regis University in Special Education, a former classroom teacher, and parent turned writer who seeks to educate and encourage kids and those who live and work with them to strive for excellence. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Specific Learning Disabilities, a Master’s degree in Gifted Education, a certificate in Educational Leadership, and will obtain her Ph.D. in Special Education in 2011. Her best-selling book “Apples & Chalkdust” has sold more than 600,000 copies! She has written more than 80 articles and 20 books and is a frequent guest on national radio and television programs. Vicki speaks at educational, parenting, homeschool and writers’ conferences. Vicki is also an educational spokesperson whose most recent client is Nintendo®. Her radio media tour reached more than 3,000,000 listeners nationwide.