of the criticism that those of us who live at St Beuno's have about
the BBC2 Programme, "The Big Silence"
is that rather too much emphasis is placed on silence, particularly
in the difficulty or even impossibility of not talking. We feel that
silence on retreat isn't an end in itself, merely a means to help
us centre on what is deepest within.
As Christians we believe that God speaks to the heart of each individual.
But we probably won't hear God's 'still small voice' if we fill our
days with the noise of TVs, Computers, phones, work and busy-ness
of all kinds. We can try to fill the emptyness within by the busyness
Therefore we encourage those on retreat to leave e-mails behind for
a week, to switch off the mobile phone, to take time away from the
TV and chatting. It is surprising that after a week away you will
realise that you have missed very little; the world is just the same
as it was last week. But the silence gives you time to change and
You needn't worry in the silence that you will miss anything really
important: let your nearest and dearest know where you are and give
them our contact number and if there is a real emergency you will
retreats at St Beuno's are conducted in a prayerful silence both during
the day and usually at meal times when some quiet music helps foster
a reflective atmosphere. Participants are expected to remain silent
around the house and respect the silence of others. The silence enables
participants to move deeper into prayer and meditation and not be
distracted by the concerns of others.
Within the silence you will spend about three quarters of an hour
daily talking to your retreat guide. For most people it doesn't disturb
the silence to offer a friendly smile as you pass others in the corridors
of St Beuno's or respond to a 'Good Afternoon' when passing another
walker on your climb of the local hills. You will notice how David
in episode three of The Big Silence found inner silence whilst sat
on a washing machine in the kitchen watching the traffic rushing round
in circles. Most people seem to find the silence less difficult than
it seems in the TV programme. There is a tendency in making TV programmes
to want to increase the tension by having difficulties last until
the very last moment. In fact, most of the five folk in The Big Silence
were fairly comfortably into silence after the first few days.
You too will probably find the silence a liberation and get thoroughly
used to it after a couple of days.