This lovely reflection on silence came to us unbidden from a student at Mount Saint Mary’s. It was originally published in Seeking Silence, the newsletter for the Arkansas House of Prayer, and is shared with us by permission.
Last year, right before Covid-19 hit, I went to a Lenten reflection at Mount Saint Mary’s Academy with my mom and grandmother. The reflection was led by Sister Deborah, and I loved the experience. It was all about connecting with God and deciding what direction we wanted our relationship with God to go during that Lent. We prayed several times; most of these times were spent simply sitting in silence with God and dedicating that time to Him. One of these times really stuck out to me.
I’ve always had trouble just sitting in silence and clearing my mind. My mind always wanders, and I end up thinking about something totally random.. During that prayer, my mind still wandered some, but most of the wandering was centered around God. I tried to focus my mind on Him while sitting in the silence. Like with all new things, it took a little bit to get used to praying that way. But once I did, I experienced one of the best encounters with God that I’ve had in my entire life.
While sitting in the silence and keeping my mind focused on God, an image came into my head. What I find amazing about this is that I wasn’t looking for an image or trying to get a message from God. I was just sitting in His presence. The image I saw was of a dark forest. The trees were extremely large, in width and height, and they seemed to be woven together somehow. Because they were all tangled, and there was no light from the sun coming through. But in the center of the forest was Jesus, slowly walking towards me with his arms outstretched, shedding a blinding, golden light on everything that surrounded him. The trees seemed to part for him, giving him a clear path to me.
It’s taken a while for me to fully understand what this means, and there may still be more for me to figure out later, but it fits perfectly with my life. The image represents my life and what goes on in my head. I’m so busy and distracted that everything comes together to form an almost impenetrable barrier around me, but Jesus/God can break through that barrier and shed light into my life if I only let him. He can clear a path to me and make room for what’s important if I give him the “go-ahead.”
I’ve learned from past experiences that God is a gentleman. He wants certain things for me, and He knows what’s best, but He refuses to force anything on me. He waits for me to ask Him for help, and He won’t speak to me if I don’t want Him to. Things have been really hard during this pandemic, and my relationship with God has had its rough patches. There’ve been times when I’ve been in darkness and been too stubborn to ask Him for His light, so He withheld it until I asked for it. I’ve realized that He is the light that I need—that everyone needs—right now. We just have to ask Him to give us a little bit of that light in order to receive it.
—Isabella Porter Nguyen