December 2017 (Vol. XXX, No. 11)

Dear Friends ~ Having just celebrated a holiday meant to remind us to give thanks, it seems appropriate to contemplate cultivating a practice of gratefulness that would not just fall on one day of the calendar. It would permeate the whole of our lives. To be grateful for blessings does not need to mean that one is turning a blind eye to all that is running amok in the world. Rather it is to latch on hopefully to the ever-present reality that, in the midst of chaos and disaster, we still receive abundant gifts of life and breath and beauty and grace. That is not to say that we should mistake privilege for blessing or an attitude of entitlement for one of appreciation or what has been taken for what has been given. It is, however, to pay attention to the blessings falling gently all around us like a soft and silent snowfall and to respond with grateful hearts.

To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all our lives—the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections—that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment.

~ Henri Nouwen

True thanking is to enjoy God. Gratitude is a true understanding of who we really are. With reverence and awe we turn ourselves around toward the work God leads us to do, enjoying and thanking with our real selves.

~ Julian of Norwich

The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; the thankful heart will find in every hour some heavenly blessing.

~ Henry Ward Beecher

Be attentive lest you miss the grace that passes before you, whether as small as a single birdsong or as broad as the rising sun of your own life restored. Be grateful, lest these pearls have been thrown to swine. And be ready to speak of it in the grandest or simplest words or deeds. You have not invented your own hope; it has sprung, green and living, from the grace that has rained upon you, has welled up from deepest springs, has come to you in steadfast rivers.

~ Steve Garnaas-Holmes at

In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy...Love wholeheartedly, be surprised, give thanks and praise—then you will discover the fullness of your life.

~ Br. David Steindl-Rast

The Gift

Be still, my soul, and steadfast.
Earth and heaven both are still watching
though time is draining from the clock
and your walk, that was confident and quick,
has become slow.

So be slow if you must, but let
the heart still play its true part.
Love still as once you loved deeply
and without patience. Let God and the world
know you are grateful.
That the gift has been given.

~ Mary Oliver

The flower of gratitude is like the nectar of the hive.

~ Anita Diamani

There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.

~ Ralph H. Blum

The practice of gratitude is a wonderful means of cultivating positive emotion. By beginning to practice feeling gratitude for what you currently have in your life, you free up a tremendous amount of energy that is normally dissipated in worry, anxiety, and fear. A positive feeling state, with an inspired heart and a clear mind, is the perfect starting place for moving toward creating a higher level of well-being in your life.

~ James Strohecker in PEAK VITALITY B008TJ5XXI

Gratitude softens us.

~ Nan Merrill

To pray is to regain a sense of the mystery that animates all beings, the Divine margin in all attainments. Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living. It is all we can offer in return for the mystery by which we live... It is so embarrassing to live. How strange we are in the world and how presumptuous our doings. Only one response can maintain us: Gratefulness for witnessing the wonder: for the gift of our unearned right to live, to adore, to fulfill. It is gratefulness which makes the soul great.

~ from I ASKED FOR WONDER by Abraham Heschel

The very act of giving thanks
Draws the best out of you,
Helps to keep your heart and mind open;
Helps to keep your awareness expanding.
The more blessings you count,
The more they increase.

~ Adapted from a poem by Eileen Caddy

We are all wanderers in the earth, but only a few of us in each generation have discovered the life of charity, the living from day to day, receiving gifts gratefully through grace, and rendering them, multiplied through grace, to the Giver ... the grateful rendering, the gratitude and giving.

~ from MOGADOR’S BOOK by Robert Lox

Joy blossoms in gratitude for what we have been given...beginning with the gift of life.

~ Bonnie Thurston

People often ask me how Buddhists answer the question: ‘Does God exist?’ The other day I was walking along the river...I was suddenly aware of the sun, shining through the bare trees. Its warmth, its brightness, and all this completely free, completely gratuitous. Simply there for us to enjoy. And without my knowing it, completely spontaneously, my two hands came together, and I realized that I was making gassho. And it occurred to me that this is all that matters: that we can bow, take a deep bow. Just that. Just that.

~ Rev. Eido Tai Shimano

Joy is really the simplest form of gratitude.

~ Karl Barth

Gifting is a simple way of expressing gratitude for opportunities to share. In essence, it is an act of balance. If you take something, you give something in return. What you give can be in the form of an actual gift or simply your time. It is a means of honoring that which you are working to understand. Gifting is a means of awakening a greater sense of gratitude in life and for life.

~ from ANIMAL-SPEAK by Ted Andrews

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Dear Ones,

Nan Merrill wrote in Lumen Christi, Holy Wisdom:

Wend your way through the corridors of time,
not as passengers on a free ride
watching the seasons pass;
Rather, steady mindfulness quickens
the spirit, awakens the soul,
and opens the Inner Gate that leads to the great Work so needed in these times.

I am writing this Annual Appeal on the eve of Listening at the Gate, a retreat to celebrate Nan Merrill and 30 years of Friends of Silence The retreat will be held at Still Point, a mountain cabin on a windy, forested hillside overlooking the storied Shenandoah River. Still Point is the retreat home of Friends of Silence. There we will listen for how our small but mighty community of Letter readers and pray-ers is and will be part of that great Work so needed in these troubled times. We will listen in Silence and with gratitude for the marvelous gift that is Friends of Silence, born of Nan Merrill’s compassion and vision 30 years ago.

In one of the early issues of the Friends of Silence Letter Nan wrote, "Our little community of the Friends of Silence is an expression of the desire to have all our relations, all of our activity in the world, pass through Eternity. If we are to participate in bringing the Blessed Community to its completion, we must be still and know God in our inner beings. We invite anyone who shares this dream, this hope to come and come and be with us each month. This is our beginning…..

The invitation to "be still and know God in our inner beings" is at the heart of what is being called forth today, just as it was three decades ago. It is perhaps even more crucial in these shadowy times when it sometimes seems that the only thing between us and utter chaos is the awakened soul. We at Friends of Silence are privileged to participate in a ministry of encouragement and hope, sending out the Letter each month to those who share the dream and have set forth on the necessary journey of soul toward the Inner Gate.

Please help us to continue sending the Letter with its vital words of wisdom and inspiration freely to all who ask. We have thousands on our mailing list, all of whom get the Letter without charge. We wouldn’t want it any other way. The Friends of Silence Letter is sustained solely by your prayers and donations. Your generosity and faithfulness is what enables us to pay the printing costs and postage every month and keeps the Letter arriving in your mailbox or email, hopefully encouraging you and thousands around the world who are linked in the Silence, in heart-prayer, and in friendship. This is a living part of "the great Work so needed in these times."

Please join with us in this work. An envelope is enclosed for your donation. Thank you.

Ever yours in the Silence,

Lindsay McLaughlin

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