O Great Spirit
help me always speak the truth quietly,
to listen with an open mind when other’s speak
and to remember the peace that may be found in silence.
— Cherokee Prayer from 1,001 Pearls of Spiritual Wisdom
I pray for deep listening in the new century
listening to others
listening to oneself
listening to the earth
listening to the universe Continue reading “Deep Listening …”
God breathes through us so completely, so gently, we hardly feel it, yet it is our everything.
— John Coltrane
Perhaps what wearies you
is not the world
but your own mind.
It’s time to make
from the furrow
in your brow
to the temple
in your chest.
Continue reading “World Weary …”
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 …”