I've done silent retreats, back when I was at a Jesuit university and was involved in Ignatian spirituality (despite being a non-Christian). In reality, they weren't entirely silent: most of us had to be silent for the majority of it, except when meeting with our spiritual directors, but we had to listen to the teachings, preachings, and readings of others at various points along the way, without discussion, questions, or responses. The experience of that retreat got me thinking a lot about the politics of speaking and of silence in religious settings. It's something I had not thought about much in a long while, until I began writing this present column.

My plan for the Sacred Nights of Antinous, therefore, is the following. I will be posting on my own blog about the significance of the dates, along with an installment each day of a poem that I'll be writing, "Nine Days Along the Nile." People may comment as they wish on any of the posts, but I will not be answering or responding to any comments during those nine days. I will be reining in any of my online interactions as much as possible during that time (other than what is necessary for work), so as to keep myself in the proper mindset for the mysteries unfolding around me.

It will be difficult, and it has been difficult for me over the last few weeks to say so little. In a queer consciousness that evolved during a time a few decades back in which "Silence = Death" was a common slogan, it's been nearly impossible to listen into the void, to hear how queer theology abhors a vacuum, and yet to say nothing into that void.

But, I suspect something quite unexpected and possibly even wonderful will emerge from the silence on these coming Sacred Nights of Antinous.