Quiet Journeys explores what it means to embark on a spiritual journey through solitude, meditation and reflection
It was with the thought of encouraging people to embark on a retreat, to cultivate a habit of stillness and meditation that prompted Good Shepherd Sr Elizabeth Lim and a lay Anglican, Melanie Lee, to collaborate on a book.
Quiet Journeys: Finding Stillness in Chaos, explores what it means to embark on a quiet spiritual journey through solitude, meditation and reflection.
It was officially launched on Dec 16 at the Good Shepherd Oasis, a retreat centre on the grounds of the Good Shepherd Convent on Marymount Road.
Speaking to CatholicNews before the book launch, Ms Lee, a freelance writer who had attended retreats at the centre, said she wanted to write about it after learning it would have to make way for development.
The book was later revised to include Sr Elizabeth’s experiences in spiritual accompaniment to attract a wider readership.
The contents were finalised at the end of 2011, and work on the book started early this year, taking six months to complete.
Ms Lee said that working with Sr Elizabeth, who established the retreat centre in 1998, was a pleasant experience as the latter had a wealth of experience and information.
Ms Lee would meet the nun fortnightly and interview her at length, after which the former would then return home to put it into writing.
She would show the drafts to Sr Elizabeth who would give further inputs and suggestions. “The book is very much told from her [Sr Elizabeth’s] view,” Ms Lee said.
Both Ms Lee and Sr Elizabeth said that Quiet Journeys is not meant to be a “self-help book” and caution readers against expecting instant results after reading it.
Rather, Quiet Journeys is an invitation for readers to explore the idea of deepening their relationship with God through solitude or a guided retreat, they say.
According to Sr Elizabeth, people have the misconception that being still and quiet is “futile”. The world, including Singapore, stresses the importance of activity, she notes.
Many people just go about their daily activities and never learn to stop, she laments.
However, entering into solitude allows one to reflect on what one can do for others, as it draws from one’s inner goodness, she says.
Quiet Journeys is divided into three parts: solitude, meditation and reflection.
The first part introduces and defines solitude, which is different from loneliness. The second introduces meditation as a discipline to achieve solitary moments, and includes several meditation methods.
The last part takes a look at reflection and gaining a perspective on oneself. The book also includes testimonies from those who have attended retreats at Oasis.
“Hopefully those who never hear me will read [the book] and it will strike a chord in the hearts,” said Sr Elizabeth.
She hopes readers would come to realise that there is a “whole lot of beautiful things in them” yet to be developed, and the book would inspire them to go on this search.
Ms Lee said she does not know how the book would impact readers “but I just hope whoever reads it would feel stirrings within their heart, and be encouraged in knowing God wants to help them”.
By Darren Boon