Warm greetings to all Friends of Silence this month of Valentine love, celebrated so commercially, and the beginning of Lent -- the journey to the Passion of Christ, celebrated in the hermitage of each hear where Love abides. While Valentine's Day invites us to express love and affection to special people in our lives, Lent calls us to reflect, pray and respond to Love that lives in the suffering world. One cannot be a contemplative and be spared the Cross ... the cries of the poor, the anguish of injustice and oppression, the agonies of those afflicted by war, disease, famine, disasters, the raping of our mother earth ... One only has to read the daily news to encounter over and over again the Cross.

How do we prepare ourselves to respond to crises, to conflict, to the Christ moment? How do we so open ourselves to Love that the fears which paralyze us are overcome? "I have found in my own life and through conversations with others that people need more and more to see the connection between ordinary reality and extraordinary grace, between everyday events and the divine mystery manifested in them. As this sensitivity to the sacred increases, we desire to give high priority to the person-to-person relationship that exists between the pilgrim soul and God. Only through the strength derived from this bond is it possible to give ourselves in turn to the service of others in the world."

~ Dr. Susan Muto
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When disaster comes unexpected, we discover the strength of our underpinning faith. Such was the destiny of a mother in Armenia:

When the earthquake hit, a mother and her child plummeted several stories as their apartment building crumpled. They were trapped in a tiny space in the basement barely able to move amidst the rubble. Dressed only in her slip and pinned down by beams, the mother --- thrust into a long, uninterrupted silence -- comforted her child for eight days and eight nights with her love. When the child had finished one jar of jam that had landed near them, she kept begging her mother for something to drink. Realizing they would both die without water, the mother scratched as far she could reach and found a shard of glass. One by one, she cut her fingers and hour by hour, she fed her child her own life blood. One the ninth day the rescuers found them. Out of the cold, dark prison, they were raised to new life.

In this one microcosmic miracle, the love & faith of the mother, the trust of the child, the prayers of the family, friends and neighbors, the concerned commitment of the rescuers, the silent contemplatives of the world were all united heart-to-heart by macrocosmic Love. "The secret of spirituality is the uncovering of this kind of life exchange, this very real and very visible interconnectedness that makes all of creation ONE."

~ Sr. Joan Puls, OSF
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There is but one solitude, and that is great, and not easy to bear, and to almost everybody come hours when they would gladly exchange it for any sort of intercourse, however banal and cheap, for the semblance of some slight accord with the first comer ... But perhaps those are the very hours when solitude grows; for its growing is painful ... But that must not mislead you. The necessary thing is after all but this: solitude, great inner solitude. Going-into-oneself and for hours meeting no one -- this one must be able to attain. To be solitary, the way one was solitary as a child ... Think of the world you carry within you ... What goes on in your innermost being is worthy of your whole love ...

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
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Those in love have a secret. Their gestures and voices and eyes communicate it. They rush to "wake the dawn" and warn the world of love's peculiar logic. They speak a new language and walk with new grace. They learn the dance of life, listening and opening, the rhythm of intimacy and ecstasy. They reverberate with the cosmos as it breathes in unison and blends the sources of silence and sound.

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Where this is no love, put love.Love and you will find love.
~ St. John of the Cross
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