Monday, January 24, 2011

it's awfully quiet here

I am currently in Alexandria, Virginia. That's just 15 minutes outside of Washington, DC, in case you were having trouble placing it on the world map. I am sitting here in a dorm room at Virginia Theological Seminary, sipping tea and putting off getting to the evening's homework after spending several hours in the archives researching thesis stuff. Not that much different than at home, really, except there is no loud television playing some 'guy show' in the background and this particular library houses an Evelyn Underhill Collection.

I took a 16-hour train ride yesterday to get here. It was interesting, to say the least. Some of the people that crossed my path, ever so briefly, are still with me in some way. I don't know what to make of them, and honestly, I guess I don't need to make anything of them. That would be bordering on judging. Spending a week pretty much by myself, without a single soul that I know and only a few people in sight (the seminary is virtually deserted this time of year) makes me reflect on how little I take time to reflect these days.

I sat behind two nuns in white and blue on the way to NYC. It was an 11 hour trip and I don't think there was 15 minutes of silence between them the whole time. They were very chatty, and at several points, broke into soft singing and praying. They told the customs official that they were going to NYC for a month to pray, supporting a soup kitchen that their religious order was operating. Interesting. Would I enjoy that vocation? Praying for a month? I would like to think so.

I have to admit that I grew tired of their constant conversation after awhile. I was trying to read, catch some sleep, and gather my thoughts for the week ahead, and that was difficult at times with their non-stop stories about the antics of children in a church class and discussions on how the church is alive. The two sisters were very positive and excited about their vocation, which is great. And no doubt they were excited about their trip as well, which is wonderful. But this scenario made me think about the part that listening and waiting silently has in not only maturing a relationship, but in reflecting on the true motives behind our speech. Especially in conversing with God. Be still. Sometimes that is the hardest thing.

I guess this is a week of being still (and working) for me. It is a good thing. May it also be a week of prayer.

This is a photo I took from the train as we were crossing the St-Laurent River leaving Montreal yesterday morning.

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