Catherine de Hueck Doherty begins the book Poustinia by quoting another author: “Retreats are out…deserts are in!” She then wrote, “I haven’t noticed too many other people on the North American continent writing about deserts or going to them….It seems strange to say, but what can help modern man find the answers to his own mystery and the mystery of him in whose image he is created is silence, solitude–in a word, the desert.” (p. 18 and 20) (The word Poustinia is Russian for desert.) Silence, or metaphorically the desert, is what we all need, though we might not know it and we definitely do not want it.
I abhor the vacuum of silence, emptiness. I immediately seek to fill the empty time with activity, even good, positive and sometimes needed activity. Oh, there are things that I have to do…work on getting permits for building and getting estimates, etc and the things that I have to do are, in fact, God’s will for me at the given moment. No problem with those activities.
It is the emptiness that I immediately seek to fill, the silence. Put on the TV or music, try to problem solve the struggles of daily decisions or even world dilemmas, go to a movie, go shopping, sweep the floor. JUST DO SOMETHING. Don’t allow myself to get bored, to have too much time to think, to be still, to be present with God.
I am always concerned for lovers who have to fill every moment of their time together with activities, for the depth of speech for lovers is found in the speech of silence together, where true intimacy is found. It is this speech of silence that I desire with God, for it is in the silence that the fullness of God, the infinite love and fire of God can fill my very being. That is what I desire. So, Lord, help me not to run from the empty times, the silent times, the vastness of the void.