Last week my wife and I began working at a retreat center. The Hermitage has offered guests and groups a place away for more than 30 years. One of the key services, or offerings we provide is the gift of silence. We do not practice a fierce silence, but encourage a spirit of silence by eating our meals in silence, incorporating silence in our practice of morning prayer, and setting aside a single meeting room as the place for conversations. We as staff are intentional about considering silence as a gift that we offer our guests, and we invite the guests to extend this gift to other retreatants. Retreatants come to give attention to their relationship with the divine, and we don’t want to interrupt that work with small talk. Offering the gift of silence is an act of hospitality.
Silence has been an important part of my spiritual life for many years, but I also look forward to what new depths of silence I might encounter as I further open myself to its gifts.