Something stirred from deep within. I felt it knocking, begging to be acknowledged and released. I could not put a name to it, but something felt awakened after a long period of dormancy. In truth, this gnawing sensation had been building for more than a year, but on the levee that day, I grappled with this powerful presence at work in me. I had no words for the hunger that was asking me for more. All I could do was attempt to be still and acknowledge its existence. Continue reading “Desert Day 41: Be Still, My Restless Soul …”
Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord. — Zech 2:13
Where shall the Word be found,
where will the word resound?
There is not enough silence.
— T. S. Elliott from Collected Poems (Ash Wednesday)
To enter the unspeakable requires a quiet courage that points to what is often out of reach, though it is never far from us. Not unspeakable because it is awful, but because it lives beneath words. Not touching that silence and what lives there isolates us from the web of Spirit that connects everything. Then we lapse into what feels like a broken world of nothing. But entering that silence, the unspeakable shows itself as the thread of light that holds the web of life together. Feeling these threads, I am reanimated in a world where each small part contains everything. Continue reading “Desert Day 21: At Home In The Silence …”
The word solitude can be misleading. It suggests being alone by yourself in an isolated place. When we think about solitaries, our mind easily evokes images of monks or hermits who live in remote places secluded from the noise of the busy world. In fact, the words solitude and solitary are derived from the Latin word solus, which means alone, and during the ages many men and women who wanted to live a spiritual life withdrew to remote places—deserts, mountains or deep forests—to live the life of a recluse. Continue reading “Desert Day 16: Solitude of Heart …”
Their words and names echo through the centuries and fall on our ears with the haunting, foreign ring of oriental temple bells: Abba Anthony, Amma Syncletica, Abba Marcarius, Abba Poemen. Yet these fathers and mothers of the deserts of Egypt, Palestine, and Syria are our own Christian spiritual forebears. Continue reading “Desert Day 10: Desert Listening …”
When a great moment knocks on the door of your life,
it is often no louder than the beating of your heart,
and it is very easy to miss it.
— Boris Pasternak (in a letter to Olga Ivinskaya)
For the morning light
and its irresistible dawning,
for your untameable utterances of life
in boundless stretches of space
and the strength of the waves of the sea
I give thanks, O God.
Release in me the power of your Spirit
that my soul may be free
and my spirit strong.
Release in me the freedom of your Spirit
that I may be bridled by nothing but love
that I may be bridled only by love. Continue reading “Celtic Benediction: Morning Prayer …”
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
— Isaiah 9.2
All grace comes precisely from nowhere—from silence and emptiness, if you prefer—which is what makes it grace. It is both you and yet so much greater than you at the same time, which is probably why believers chose both uprushing fountains (John 7:38) and downrushing doves (Matthew 3:16) as metaphors for this universal and grounding experience of spiritual encounter. Sometimes it is an uprush and sometimes it is a downrush, but it is always from a silence that is larger than you, surrounds you, and finally names the deeper truth of the full moment that is you. I call such a way of knowing the contemplative way of knowing, as did much of the older tradition. (The word “prayer” has been so consistently trivialized to refer to something you do, instead of something that is done to you, with you, in you, and as you.) Then, like Mary, you are ready to give birth. You are ready for Christmas … Continue reading “Advent Day 28: Silent Night, Holy Night (Christmas Eve) …”
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
One nation shall not raise the sword against
nor shall they train for war again.
— Isaiah 2:4
While external clutter is rather easily cured with a big waste basket and a donation bag, internal clutter is a more difficult matter. During the holidays, relatives can sometimes seem hard-wired to cause us hardship, co-workers can more readily get on our nerves, and our stress levels can elevate completely out of control. Unlike cleaning our closets, we can’t collect our stress and donate it to someone else. Our stress is our own, and we have to deal with it. We live in a stress-filled world and can only do what we can to manage stress. We want to be constructive with our stress, “beating our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks.” We want to quit “training for war” and use the energy of our stress for peace. Continue reading “Advent Day 14: Comfort and Joy …”
May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.
May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
May you receive great encouragement when new frontiers beckon.
May you respond to the call of your gift and find the courage to follow its path.
May the flame of anger free you from falsity.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame and may anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.
May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.
May you be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.
— John O’Donohue from Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong
Learning to hear God is much more about becoming comfortable in a continuing conversation, and learning to constantly lean on the goodness and love of God, than it is about turning God into an ATM for advice, or treating the Bible as a crystal ball. My hope is that this book will help you develop an ongoing relationship with God that will involve conversation, communion and consummation.
— Dallas Willard from Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God
When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world. Your innermost sense of self, of who you are, is inseparable from stillness. This is the “I Am” that is deeper than name and form.
Stillness is your essential nature. What is stillness? The inner space or awareness in which the words on this page are being perceived and become thoughts. Without that awareness, there would be no perception, no thoughts, no world. You are that awareness, disguised as a person. Continue reading “Silence and Stillness …”