Twenty-one weeks is the absolute maximum amount of time that I can go without some meaningful silence and solitude, or else my nerves get shaky, my work suffers, and my relationships start running on empty. That period of roughly one hundred and fifty days is about fifty percent farther than I should attempt to travel without a retreat.

I need time to listen, to examine, and to confess, time to take off some of the hats I wear. I need time to listen for the Voice, if for no other reason than so I will recognize it more clearly in the ways it speaks into the noise and bustle of the life I lead.

The silence that I seek must be nurtured until it lives in me no matter where I am at the moment. It was easy to find silence on the mountain at Sumatanga, but what do I do now that I no longer am required to go there? How is one to hear the Voice if one cannot even hear oneself think?

The silence that I seek cannot merely be the absence of the numbing noise and debilitating detail of life in our society. It must be something more. It must be a solitude that is transcendent, a stillness that can be found in the midst of the noise, a silence that is portable.

Robert Benson, Living Prayer