BY MARIA SAUER
At this point in the semester, most students are probably finding themselves at a place where their mind is filled with papers, exams, meetings and other obligations. It seems like each day goes by driven by the next thing that has to be done. Or at least, this is how I feel at times. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to go on a silent retreat with Campus Ministry in what seemed to be a perfect time. After weeks where my mind was consumed with daily commitments, I was able to be still. I looked forward to this time, but found it difficult to be still once the silence began. In my experience, to break away from all that ties you down is easier to do physically than mentally. Here I was at a retreat center surrounded by the sounds of crackling wood in a fire and the smell of fresh snow. Still, I was unable to separate myself from my daily routine. What began to unravel the thoughts that tied me down to uneasiness and pulled me towards peace was silence. With the silence, I was able to detach myself from these holds on me.
Imagine yourself lying down on an earth covered ground, the sun shining upon your face and the sound of the wind rustling trees around you. In this moment, would you be able to detach yourself from all other thoughts and be able to take in all of the natural occurrences around you? How possible would it be for you to breathe in peace and exhale distress? Imagine now that you hear steps behind you. Although quick to jump and anxious to see it, you may startle what was to come your way. By remaining silent and still, you may find that the steps are now heard louder and more distinctly. Remain in serenity long enough to open your eyes and notice deer before you. They are not aggressive, but rather gentle and pleasant. In awe that you were able to have a scene before you, you breathe in again and find peace in the air. This moment is life-giving and fragile, for it may not have occurred if you had not been still. It may not be deer that we find entering into our paths, but our day-to-day lives are filled with beauties unnoticed. Unnoticed maybe because of the lack of will to seek it out, or maybe because we are too occupied with our daily obligations to recognize what is before us.
As much as we may try to rest throughout our day, how often do we truly rest? It may not be often that we are able to disconnect from different aspects of our life and find peace. A precious gift of peace that resides in each person should be reflected on and embraced, but is too often washed over by noise of all sorts. Through the silent retreat, I was able to remain silent and still. I was able to disconnect myself so much that I rested in the peace I held within me. Peace of mind did not have to be sought out, but rather was revealed the more I rid my mind of what brought unease. This isn’t to say that all will experience the same peace or find it in the same way, but it is to say that we are able to have control of our lives even as it is filled with uncertainties. We may be limited in our ability to bring out the peace we hold within ourselves, but peace resides in all of us and seeks to be brought out.