Reflections on The Big Silence

Reflections on The Big Silence

The Big Silence

Last week, I spent four days at St. Francis Springs Prayer Retreat Center, where I participated in the Big Silence, a mostly silent retreat, grounded in the modern classic The Way of the Heart by Henry Nouwen. It was my second time to attend.

The peace and quiet offered a space for nurturing my spiritual life, through solitude, silence, and prayer.


Woods in Winter


Woods in Winter

In solitude we realize that nothing human is alien to us, that the roots of all conflict, war, injustice, cruelty, hatred, jealousy, and envy are deeply anchored in our own heart. In solitude our heart of stone can be turned into a heart of flesh, a rebellious heart into a contrite heart, and a closed heart into a heart that can open itself to all suffering people in a gesture of solidarity.  Henry Nouwen

Woods in Winter

Rocks in outdoor scene


There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness. This mysterious Unity and Integrity is Wisdom, the Mother of all, Natura naturans.

There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fount of action and joy. It rises up in wordless gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being, welcoming me tenderly, saluting me with indescribable humility.

This is at once my own being, my own nature, and the Gift of my Creator’s Thought and Art within me, speaking as Haggia Sophia, speaking as my sister, Wisdom. Thomas Merton

St. Francis Springs Prayer Center

Bridge over springWoods in Winter



Through prayer, we can carry in our hearts all human pain and sorrow, all conflicts and agonies, all torture and war, all hunger, loneliness, and misery, not because of some great psychological or emotional capacity, but because God’s heart has become one with ours.

Real prayer comes from the heart. Henri Nouwen

The root of prayer is interior silence. Thomas Keating


Outdoor Chapel
Outdoor Chapel


Perfect prayer is not to know you are praying. Anthony of Egypt

Statue of St. Francis of Assis

St. Francis of Assisi

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