Silence as a spiritual practice is much more than being able to sit still without talking for thirty minutes or longer. Instead, silence is a quality of presence. The silence we search for is an overall state of being. It is not something we achieve with great effort, either, but something we uncover that is inside us. Somewhere at our core there is a reservoir of silence. . . . To return regularly to this depth, whether in cloistered silence or in line at the grocery, is called "a habit of silence." It is not duration that is important, but the returning time after time to the source within us that, in time, shapes who we are.
~ Marv Hiles, in “The Way Through,” No. 37, Spring 2011
I know the world is bruised and bleeding and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom.
Let us stay in our chairs as long as we dare, breathing gently until another rhythm takes over. Let us risk inaction, become receptive, give our thoughts to the blank wall, let our layers be peeled back, accept our dreams as true even if we must wait and wait, trusting that all human life is part of an intricate unfolding of the One Reality.
~ from All the Days of My Life by Marv and Nancy Hiles
We cannot control our life. If we are set upon doing so, we have abdicated from peace, which must balance what is desired with what is possible. As Hokusai shows so memorably, the great wave is in waiting for any boat. It is unpredictable, as uncontrollable now as it was at the dawn of time. Will the slender boats survive or will they be overwhelmed? The risk is a human constant; it has to be accepted — and laid aside. What we can do, we do. Beyond that, we endure, our endurance framed by a sense of what matters and what does not. The worst is not that we may be overwhelmed by disaster, but to fail to live by principle. Yet we are fallible, and so the real worst, the antithesis of peace, is to refuse to recognize failure and humbly begin again.
~ from SISTER WENDY'S BOOK OF MEDITATIONS by Sr. Wendy Beckett
When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it — always.
The work has been no different since the beginning,
the thin golden thread through the chaos,
the dimly lit path through the valley,
the hand in the night:
to trust the Giver of Life in the darkness,
to trust the goodness buried in the terrible moment,
in every awful passage, every ending,
to receive the love that is given.
The test is only clearer in dark times,
to see the hollow illusion of princes
and forego their poisoned promises,
to come into this day in the name of the Holy One,
not in the thrall of our fears.
~ from Steve Garnaas-Holmes at www.unfoldinglight.net
So we must learn, in this twisted age, that the ultimate therapy is to identify our own pain with the pain of others, and then band together to resist the conditions that create our common malady...As we learn to see our own plight in the lives of our brothers and sisters we will begin to find health. Therapy involves identifying and building communities of concern. Only so can we heal ourselves.
~ from 40 DAY JOURNEY WITH PARKER PALMER, edited by Henry F. French
For those of us with a hunger to know the truth, painful emotions are like flags going up to say, "You're stuck!"... such uncomfortable feelings are messages that tell us to perk up and lean into a situation when we'd rather cave in and back away. When the flag goes up, we have an opportunity: we can stay with our painful emotion instead of spinning out. Staying is how we get the hang of gently catching ourselves when we're about to let resentment harden into blame, righteousness, or alienation. It's also how we keep from smoothing things over by talking ourselves into a sense of relief or inspiration...With practice, however, we learn to stay with a broken heart, with a nameless fear, with the desire for revenge. Sticking with uncertainty is how we learn to relax in the midst of chaos, how we learn to be cool when the ground beneath us suddenly disappears.
No wonder the prophet weeps yet —
We begin again but not innocent...
And we feebly watch for you and wait.
Teach us how to weep while we wait,
and how to hope while we weep,
and how to care while we hope.
~ from "Teach Us How To Weep" in AWED TO HEAVEN, ROOTED IN EARTH: PRAYERS OF WALTER BRUEGGEMANN
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