Silent Retreat

As part of his sabbatical, Rinus Janson of Varsity Bible Church in Calgary, Alberta chose to participate in a silent retreat.
Being a pastor, Rinus knows the importance of tending to the soul but the pressures and busyness of ministry only add to the noisiness of regular life.
Prompted by a desire to pay attention to God and recognizing the need for time away (but not a vacation!), he spent eight days in silence at a Jesuit retreat centre.

Although Rinus knew this was important, I think even he was surprised at the impact of the retreat.
Sometimes we experience the absence of God, but during this time of silence, Rinus met a God who is present.
It took a while to quiet the inner chatter that hinders our ability to “be” and to “be still” and to “be still and know that I am God.”
But it happened – the extended time of silence quieted his heart and mind.
Then, as Rinus said, there are things that God only seems to speak in silence and that can be heard in silence.
He was grateful that God spoke to him in his deepest places – just as the Psalmist says – “deep calls to deep” (Ps 42:7).

Those eight days have affected the way Rinus pastors.
He’s more deliberate in carving out time for silence as a daily practice.
Those times of silence are giving him a greater awareness of the presence of God and increasing his confidence that God is involved and working.
It’s transforming the way he thinks about the hard things in ministry – not that it is a guarantee of a happy ending but there’s hope and peace because God is present.
This practice of silence is relieving some of the despair and loneliness that Rinus has experienced in the past – and that many other church leaders can attest to.

Silence is reminding him that, just as Julian of Norwich said centuries ago, all shall be well.

Silent Retreat
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