SPRING GREETINGS! A friend of Silence recently wrote asking, "How does one learn to live in the moment, to be truly present to the now?" Besides suggesting Br. Lawrence's PRACTISING THE PRESENCE OF GOD, the following quote from an article, "Present to the Earth", by Pat Feldsien in Creation Magazine seems to the point:
Cultivating awareness is an essential discipline for being in the moment. As awareness deepens we become more receptive; we gradually discover the life process and move from the quantified aspects of things to their qualities. We perceive ourselves less as observers and more as integral parts of the process. Awareness leads to the sure knowledge that we are creatures among creatures and that the earth is always aware of our presence. Awareness cannot be realized without solitude and silence. Solitude enables us to become aware of the boundaries of the self, to experience aloneness as a prelude to the experience of at-one-ness. To be silent is to let go of that fear which drowns out every kind of awareness. Silence leads us into mystery. Silence means stilling self-reflexive chatter and adopting an attitude of listening. Listen to the silence of the earth -- it is deafening. Listening to the silence of earth brings us into communion with every separate being -- a blade of grass moving in the breeze, an ant walking across a leaf, the eagle hovering high overhead, water flowing slowly from a hidden spring. One becomes an ear so that all might become music.
O infinite God, you are the first and last experience of my life. Yes, really you yourself, not just a concept of you, not just the name that we ourselves have given you! You have descended upon me in water and the Spirit ... And then there was no question of my contriving or excogitating anything about you. Then my reason with its extravagant cleverness was still silent. Then, without asking me, you made yourself my poor heart's destiny. You have seized me; I have not "grasped" you. You have transformed my being right down to its very last roots and made me a sharer in your own being and life. You have given me yourself, not just a distant, fuzzy report of yourself in human words. And that is why I can never forget you, because you have become the very center of my being. Your word and your wisdom is in me, not because I comprehend you with my understanding, but because I have been recognized by you as your friend. O, grow in me, enlighten me, shine forth ever stronger in me, eternal light. May you alone enlighten me, you alone speak to me. May all that I know apart from you be nothing more than a chance traveling companion on the journey toward you.
When I was in Italy, Mme. Montessori told me that besides all the activities she gives to children, she encourages them to keep silence; and after a little time, they like it so much that they prefer silence to their activity. And it interested me to see a little girl of about six years of age, when the time of silence came, went and closed the windows and door, and put away all the things that she was playing with. Then she came and sat in her little chair and closed her eyes, and she did not open them for about three or four minutes. It seemed she preferred those five minutes of silence to all the playing of the whole day.
The experience of solitude is necessary because only in solitude and silence is the living God revealed as the binding source of all that is. The veil is lifted, and we begin to see the wonderful possibilities of life together that surround and inhabit us. This means that, at our worst and darkest moments, we can affirm that we are God's handiwork, that God's image has marked us forever, that the most real thing about us is the Spirit who dwells in every human heart. We may be fundamentally and utterly nothing, we may be creatures marked for death, but we are peculiar beings whose very emptiness has been designed to be inhabited by nothing less than the living God. And it is in the living God that we meet one another. The life of prayer revolves around two poles: solitude and community. God is encountered in both places.
"God speaks to us in the space between two thoughts."
Civilized people feel a loneliness and even an extreme melancholia in the jungle of the mind that may make stillness a terrifying experience, but we can pass through this barrier if we will learn to understand it. Then we would discover, as the Indians did long ago, that to stand in solitude on a mountain top at sunrise or sunset, or by a waterfall in some hidden canyon of ethereal beauty, and to absorb this majesty with utter peace and awe, in which the soul merges with creation, and self is forgotten, is to become one with a joy and happiness so tremendous that no mere earthly pleasure can compare.