February 1988 (Vol. I, No. 2)

Greetings to you, friends, as we enter into the Lenten season -- the time when in the Silence we are invited to remember our story ... to contemplate the life of Jesus -- the deepest mysteries and most profound truths, which He fulfilled on the Cross ... to commune with God as we reflect, pray, fast, repent of our own shortcomings so that we may come more fully into communion/community with all people -- and, especially with those we see as enemies.

As Friends of Silence, we are united in a common bond-of-being with men and women of every country ... of every faith, creed, color. For in the Silence we are One in God. In recognition of our Oneness, perhaps we could hold this excerpt from the prayer-poem "Way of the Cross - Way of Justice" by Leonardo Boff together in our hearts as we move toward Easter and resurrection:

The risen Jesus penetrates the entire cosmos

The risen Jesus penetrates the entire cosmos
pervades the whole world,
And makes his presence felt in every human being.
The resurrection is a process that began with Jesus
and will go on until it embraces all creation.
Wherever an authentically human life is growing the world,
Wherever justice is triumphing over the instincts of domination,
Wherever grace is winning out over the power of sin,
in their social life together,
Wherever love is getting the better of selfish interests
and hope is resisting the lure of cynicism or despair,
There the process of resurrection is being turned into reality. 

~ "Way of the Cross - Way of Justice" by Leonardo Boff

The lenten spring shines forth

The lenten spring shines forth,
the flower of repentance!
Let us cleanse ourselves from all evil,
crying out to the Giver of Light:
"Glory to You, O Lover ...
Glory to You, O Friend of mankind!"

~ Anonymous

Inner city contemplative

There is a kind of giving which is receiving, just as there is a kind of loving that feels like being loved. When the mind is concentrated in the heart and some simple words -- like "Jesus, I love you" -- begin to flow naturally with the breath, if grace is there, the mind comes into a sort of natural union with the mind of Christ. The giving and loving are being done in one's own mind instead of one doing them.

The mind of Christ must be a constant flow of love. If we can concentrate our scattered minds on loving, then our minds and His mind are doing the same thing. Eastern philosophers posit that two things which are in the same flow become the same. They cannot remain separate. This inner loving of the Lord is simply opening one's mind to let Love flow through us.

Alone, this type of inner prayer and loving are not enough. For most of us, our minds are far too scattered to remain in this prayerful state for more than a moment or two. Our inner loving and service must be balanced by outer loving and service, by being and doing for others. Inner and outer loving enhance each other. When one sits quietly to pray, the inner joy is more easily accessible if one has just come from some active time of being open to those in need. And one is energized and inspired to serve others by inner prayer and loving. Jesus was a model of inner and outer loving since he was both a contemplative and an activist. This is why an "INNER CITY CONTEMPLATIVE" is not at all a contradiction in terms, but rather, it is a way to follow the Lord very closely ... to experience Him very closely.

~ Martha Chevalier, Detroit, MI

To be a monk, you must learn to close the door

Driving to Kirkridge for a retreat, I listen. On cassette, made in 1967, Thomas Merton speaks to the novices. He speaks of a Buddhist monk who has come to visit the monastery at Gethsemane. Joyfully, I remember. I remember 1967. I remember Thich Nhat Hanh. Students had organized a multi-faceted event on "the war" at my college. Two Buddhist monks came to be among us. In their orange robes, with agony for their Vietnamese brothers and sisters in heart, they spoke to us. I remember the power of their souls. I don't remember the quiet. My own life at 21 was such a noisy jumble. My own soul -- such a kaleidoscope of passions. Who did I love? What was my call? What were my gifts? Then, always relentlessly the question of "the war" -- how would I respond to the death and violence, the heroism and the compassion, the deceit and the debate? Those questions powered my soul into overdrive. And yes, I liked being in overdrive. Because then I could produce.

Inner peace -- that was for others. Those of us who were activists, those who really cared, we were driven to act, and act and act some more. So, for me in 1967, my jumbled soul did not even know to yearn for inner peace. I only caught glimpses of the vital connection between inner peace and actions for peace, between clarity of soul and clear commitments, between loving the life of God within me and living love in God's world. Perhaps Thich Nhat Hanh in 1967 offered me that glimpse.

Over twenty year later, now his words sting and bless. "TO BE A MONK, YOU MUST LEARN TO CLOSE THE DOOR." I realize the responsibility and necessity of "closing the door." Shut out obligations and issues, shut out people you love, shut out the pain and hope of the world. It sounds so harsh and yet it MUST be done. We must all shut the door -- so we can go inside to prayer -- "to let God be God in you," as Eckhardt said.

~ Rev. Brooks Smith, No. Plainfield, NJ