The Music of Silence

To what am I deaf here?

Monks take a vow of obedience...It means a loving listening: listening to the Word of God that comes to us moment by moment, listening to the message of the angel that comes to us hour by hour. The very word obedience means an intensive listening. The opposite of that obedience is absurdity, which means being deaf to life's challenges and meaning. We have the choice in our life between living with this loving listening or finding everything absurd...So the next time you say, "This is absurd," you might consider the more helpful question, "To what am I deaf here?"

~ from THE MUSIC OF SILENCE by David Steindl-Rast, O. S. B.
Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey through the Hours of the Day
By Ph.D. Brother David Steindl-Rast, Sharon Lebell

Prayer is attuning of yourself to the life of the world

Prayer is not sending in an order and expecting it to be fulfilled. Prayer is attuning yourself to the life of the world, to love, the force that moves the sun and the moon and the stars.

~ from THE MUSIC OF SILENCE by Br. David Steindl-Rast
Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey through the Hours of the Day
By Ph.D. Brother David Steindl-Rast, Sharon Lebell

Light filling everything with light

I started to compose the opening of "Fos" (light) and I had the idea of a string trio playing in the distance which would represent the soul yearning for God. The choir represented God in uncreated energies. This yearning choir is played by the string trio which is cut off by the joy/sorrow chord by the choir singing the word "Fos," light, light, light, light, light -- until it becomes an expanded light separated from all yet united to all, and moving straight into the second section, Doxa: symbolizing the glory of that Light filling everything with light.

~ from THE MUSIC OF SILENCE by John Tavener
Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey through the Hours of the Day
By Ph.D. Brother David Steindl-Rast, Sharon Lebell

When everything we do becomes a prayer

If we add up all the time we have spent in our life getting things over with, it may turn out to be half our lives. The monastic attitude is to begin deliberately and to do anything we do with an even, stately pace and with wholehearted attention. This is how master artisans, weavers, experienced farmers, and other sage laborers work. That way even difficult tasks can be done leisurely ande with joy, for their own sake. And then they become life-giving.... We pray that God may guide our actions. When we do our work in this way, then everything becomes a prayer

~ from THE MUSIC OF SILENCE by David Steindl-Rast
Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey through the Hours of the Day
By Ph.D. Brother David Steindl-Rast, Sharon Lebell

The point of passing time in solitude

The point of passing time in solitude is to strip yourself bare, to discover what is essential and true. When you are stripped down to this point, you see how little you amount to. But that little is what God is interested in.

~ from "The Music of Silence" by Phyllis Rose

To listen to music has not practical purpose

To listen to music or to sing a chant is to do something that has no practical purpose; it is just celebration and praise; it is just tasting the joy and beauty of life, the glory of God. Listening to it, even in the midst of a very purposeful day, reminds us to add the other dimension to our experience, the dimension of meaning, that makes it all worthwhile.

~ from THE MUSIC OF SILENCE by David Steindl-Rast
Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey through the Hours of the Day
By Ph.D. Brother David Steindl-Rast, Sharon Lebell

Silence is my music now

One of the things he liked most about the hermitage was the silence. "Silence is my music now." He could pick up the small sounds of insects and animals. Sometimes when the wind was strong, it blew the sound of the traffic to him. He liked to think of all the people going on with their lives and to think of himself as in a sense staying where he was for their sakes, "like a lighthouse keeper."

~ from "The Music of Silence" by Phyllis Rose in Atlantic Monthly" - Oct. 1997

Contemplative life is the putting together of vision and action

Contemplative life is the putting together of vision and action. Vision alone, meditation alone, is not true contemplation. We must put vision into action. Not just monks, but all of us are called to contemplation in this full sense. If we want to live healthy lives, we have to build into our daily life moments of vision, and let our actions be formed by that vision.

~ from THE MUSIC OF SILENCE by David Steindl-Rast
Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey through the Hours of the Day
By Ph.D. Brother David Steindl-Rast, Sharon Lebell

The silence between the notes

Music is not merely a rhythmic arrangement of notes, but derives its life from the matrix of silence out of which it arises and into which it flows. And it is the silence between the notes that gives them meaning and grace.

~ from THE MUSIC OF SILENCE by David Steindl-Rast
Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey through the Hours of the Day
By Ph.D. Brother David Steindl-Rast, Sharon Lebell

Silence burst into song

At a certain pitch of religious experience, the heart just wants to sing; it breaks into song. Paradoxically, you could say when silence finds its fullness, it comes to word. As the Book of Wisdom says, "When night in its swift course had reached its halfway point and deep silence embraced everything" -- when night was at its darkest and deepest -- there "the eternal Word leaped from the Heavenly throne": silence burst into song.

~ from THE MUSIC OF SILENCE by David Steindl-Rast
Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey through the Hours of the Day
By Ph.D. Brother David Steindl-Rast, Sharon Lebell
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