When I returned from my first silent retreat several years ago, I realized that my automatic response upon getting into the car was to turn up the radio. Loud. I wasn’t listening to anything spiritual, mostly the classic rock channel on my satellite radio. The experience of silence on retreat prompted me to give it a try while driving. Instead of singing all the way to and from my daughter’s preschool, I turned off the radio and allowed myself to sink into the quiet of my little makeshift chapel on wheels.
Suddenly the 15 minutes spent driving became refreshing rather than depleting. I’d return home to my basement office feeling as though I’d already had my prayer time. Even now, when life feels beyond crazy, a quiet car is the perfect place to listen to what I might be missing when I’m surrounded by noise and other people. — Everyday Divine, Page 82
Today, experiment with your car time. Don’t turn on the radio or CD player. Notice your speed, the weather, the way the road curves, the houses or shops along the way. Notice the face of the driver in the car facing you at the stoplight. What might be worrying that person? Pray for him or her. When someone cuts you off in traffic, replace annoyance with unconditional love. When you miss a light and have to wait, focus your idle time on God or the intentions of a loved one.
If you’re going on a long drive and can’t be silent for that long, bring along some spiritual music or even a recorded talk. I have a wonderful CD of Henri Nouwen that provided the perfect prelude to my actual silent retreat at the Abbey of the Genesee two years ago. My retreat started long before I ever arrived at the monastery.