January 1990 (Vol. III, No. 1)

BLESSINGS to all Friends of Silence as we enter this new year, this new decade! How good it is to be on a spiritual pilgrimage with so many who honor the need for silence and prayer in our times. And, how marvelous are the signs of hope for the people in so many countries today. Let us continue to offer our selves in the Silence for all our sisters and brothers who continue to live in oppression and injustice and for the healing of our planet Earth. May this be the decade that ushers in peace and justice for all ... the decade when love reigns in every heart!

Give us this day our daily silence

... Silence itself prepares us for silence ... Give us this day our daily silence ...


Stand there

If we are called to be observers and contemplators, we are also called to nourish, to be nourishers, not consumers. Only a nourisher knows when to stop, not to overeat, overindulge, to draw back. To say no. I have a friend who has a coffee mug with the inscription: DON'T JUST DO SOMETHING, STAND THERE ... We often underestimate those who stand there. But I have had to do some new thinking about all this, as I have had to do some new thinking about the sound of the tree falling in the forest. If we are unwilling to practice the gift of contemplation, we are likely to get stuck in one position, and to be fearful of changing it, and so we cling, unable to laugh at ourselves and move on.

~ from "The Possible Human" by Madeleine L'Engle

I paused to listen to the silence

And, if we are unwilling to practice the gift of contemplation and find time for solitude, we miss so much along the way. Admiral Byrd's journal is filled with the fruits that silence brings:

I took my daily walk at 4 p.m. today in -89 degrees of frost ... I paused to listen to the silence ... The day was dying, the night being born -- but with great peace. Here were imponderable processes and forces of the cosmos, harmonious and soundless. Harmony, that was it! That was what came out of the silence -- a gentle rhythm, the strain of a perfect chord, the music of the spheres...

~ Admiral Richard E. Byrd

Stillness in their life

The ears of those whose hearts have listened to the word of God have first accomplished stillness in their life. And what an atmosphere such persons can produce, what effect their presence has; it is more than healing, more than medicine. One with a perfectly stilled and comforted and rested mind will at once raise up another who is going through distress or restlessness or pains or ill-temper or worry or anxiety. The very presence of one whose mind is stilled gives such hope, such inspiration, such sympathy, such power and life. All the heavenly properties run so smoothly and freely from those whose minds are stilled that their words, their voice, their presence all react upon the minds of others; and, as they still their minds, so their very presence becomes healing.

~ from IN AN EASTERN ROSE GARDEN by Inayat Khan

Our willingness to listen

It is upon our willingness to listen and hear God speak that our prayer life from first to last depends.

~ from CREATIVE PRAYER by E. Herman

The root of prayer is interior silence

The root of prayer is interior silence. We may think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words, but this is only one expression. Deep prayer is the laying aside of thoughts. It is the opening of mind and heart, body and feelings -- our whole being -- to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond words, thought, and emotions. We do not resist them or suppress them. We accept them as they are and go beyond them, not by effort, but by letting them all go by. We open our awareness to the Ultimate Mystery whom we know by faith is within us, closer than choosing, closer than thinking, closer than choosing -- closer than consciousness itself. the Ultimate Mystery is the ground in which our being is rooted, the source from whom our life emerges at every moment.

~ from OPEN MIND, OPEN HEART by Fr. Thomas Keating

Make God a reality and God will make you the truth

Before I left him, he said that we should pray. I tried to explain to him that I did not understand prayer, that I could not see the meaning of it. "Then pray that you will understand," he said impatiently. "Devotion is necessary in our path. The trouble with you is that you don't believe in God. You only think you do. If you knew what I know then you would pray ... a prayer beyond form. And where is your love and gratitude? How many times a day do you remember to say thank you? Until you can be truly grateful, you will always be in separation from God ... The prayer of which I speak is the prayer of your heart, the state where all life has become a prayer. Whether God comes with a thorn to wake you up or as the gentle wind, it is necessary that you are grateful and that you acknowledge God. For praise and gratitude are like the two hands of prayer. A great Sufi once said, 'Make God a reality and God will make you the truth.' Begin now. Do you not want to meet God face to face?"

~ from THE LAST BARRIER by Reshad Feild

Stricken with silence

Have you ever been "stricken with silence"? If so, you have tasted the ineffable; you have had a mystical experience. Silence is too often defined as "the absence of something" when it is much more than that. Silence is also a search for something, a search for the depths, for the source. Many of the mystical awakenings experienced by astronauts and cosmonauts in space have been triggered by the cosmic silence they have encountered there. Similar things happen to persons swimming in the depths of the sea or spelunking in the caves of Mother Earth. Silence moves people. That is why it is so essential to meditation practices, including the art of listening to our images. Being, one might say, is silent. We must embrace silence in order to experience being. Then -- and only then -- does it speak deep truths to us. As Rilke says: "Being-silent. Who keeps innerly silent, touches the roots of speech."


No flies come into a closed mouth

Native American Indians value silence and recommend it in stories and pointed sayings ... "Listen, or your tongue will make you deaf" ... "No flies come into a closed mouth" ... and a clause in an Indian prayer, "Oh my Grandfather, may I lose no good opportunity to hold my tongue." They feel comfortable in silence, and are often irritated, or at best amused, by our "windmill machine" of constant chatter. Silence, "going behind the blanket," removing oneself from useless or annoying contact are highly developed techniques, second nature to the Indian way.

~ from SNOWY EARTH COMES GLIDING by Evelyn Eaton
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