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Quiet Day offers tranquility, reflection

Douglas Imbrogno
Megan Lyon hopes that people take away from Saturday's Quiet Day Retreat at Unity contemplative tools for daily life.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Be quiet.

Megan Lyon means for those two words to be taken in the best possible way. As in: come Saturday to Unity of Kanawha Valley for a day of silent reflection and become re-acquainted with the virtue of quietness in an over-stimulated world.

"It's very challenging, but then, of course, all the more necessary to offer things like this to people," said Lyon, who will help stage a "Quiet Day Retreat" from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Unity, at the corner of Bridge and Myrtle road in the South Hills.

Lyon, a Kanawha County schools counselor, will facilitate the day along with Andria Petry-Siage, a former Charlestonian who now works as a clinical therapist in Evansville, Ind.

The event is free, with offerings accepted, and will mostly take place in a state of "community silence." The silent time may be spent walking a floor labyrinth and the Sunrise Carriage Trail, meditating, praying, journaling or anything that encourages contemplation and solitude.

Because silence can be a challenging place to remain when people are so used to the stimulation and distractions of modern life -- from cellphone check-ins to serial website-hopping -- Lyon and Petry-Siage will offer some opening and closing structure.

"The opening circle is a way to set our intentions for the day," said Lyon. "Because some people are really apprehensive about silence and not sure how they're going to be able to handle it."

Petry-Siage will do two guided meditations before and after a light lunch. There will be paper available for people to journal along with contemplative reading materials, including the practice of Lectio Divina, a contemplative approach to scriptural passages.

The day is open to people of all spiritual paths, not just those of Christian faith, said Lyon. "I'm very heavily influenced by Christian mystics like Thomas Merton. But I feel compelled for this to be open to anyone who has a desire to either grow spiritually or seek whatever their higher power or source is. Their divine spirit - however they see it."

She noted that Merton, an influential Catholic writer and Trappist monk, was open to different traditions "and wanting to unify people." Late in his life, Merton -- whose home monastery was Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey near Louisville, Ky., -- opened an ongoing dialogue between the Christian and Buddhist traditions.

Lyon said she was particularly influenced by one of Merton's many books, "New Seeds of Contemplation," and has attended several retreats at Bethany Springs at the Merton Institute Retreat Center near Gethsamani.

"I gained so much from that and wanted to kind of give people a sampling in their own home town," said Lyon. "They can experience this contemplative way of being that they might then pour into their everyday life."

Reach Douglas Imbrogno at douglas@cnpapers.com or 304-348-3017.


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