Greetings, dear friends! In many parts of the country, this is the season we begin to see tiny miracles of creation becoming visible: little tips of green as the early spring bulbs push up through the ground, tender green buds bursting from bare branches of trees . . . and we begin to feel creative stirrings in our souls right along with nature. How do we experience those stirrings? What exactly is creativity? As we go into silence with the questions and feelings we may have, we remember that we are called to be co-creators with the Divine. We don't need to paint a masterpiece, or write a best-seller, though for some that happens. What we do need are ways to express our own, personal, unique creative yearnings. Listen carefully, dear friends: the answers will begin to flow, and we will begin to bloom right along with those spring flowers!

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Warm, loving greetings, dear friends! Even as I type this greeting, the ever-present question arises: What is love? Can we really define it? Is it necessary, or even desirable, that we do so? It isn't really possible, is it? Love is something we can feel or aspire to be, but it doesn't lend itself easily to the kind of definitions our reason-driven culture seems to demand. While it isn't possible to define love, I am drawn to Carl Jung's juxtaposition of love and power: "Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other." Perhaps it would be fruitful to take this idea into our Silence and listen for a deeper understanding that might be revealed.

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Happy New Year, dear Friends of Silence! As we embark on yet another year through this life of ours, let us do so knowing that we are filled with Light. Though sometimes we may feel we are lost, and though there are always many parts of this old world that are hurting and appear to be in deep darkness, we must remember that the Light is always present, all around and within us. It is up to us to turn, just slightly, and find that all-encompassing Light within ourselves. When we do, we find also that we can see it without. Let us begin this new year in full awareness of the Light that we are and the Light that surrounds us. We are called to be Light-bearers, dear friends!

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Joyful greetings, dear friends! It is easy to feel the joy of this sacred time of year. But then we remember: All time is sacred, and joy is always with us! We are surrounded by it; it holds us in constant embrace. We cannot escape it: The joy in which we dwell is everywhere, as distant as the farthest star and as close as the depths of our own hearts. We have only to become aware and awake, accepting and attentive, to claim it. As Nan Merrill has written, "Awakening to our divine nature is a peace-filled, joy-filled, and creative way of being." As we rest in the Silence, may we come to know the Sacred joy that fills the universe around us.

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"Is there enough silence for the Word to be heard?"

Greetings, dear Friends of Silence! As I write to you today, we’re receiving the blessing of gentle, much needed rain here in Texas; and the grateful earth is giving us a lovely, soft gray day in return. It feels natural and desirable on such a day to allow ourselves to be cradled in silence, to take a “time out” from our busy lives and sink into the warmth and comfort of quiet time spent in communion with the Divine Center we cherish deep within ourselves. May we all receive the gift of such days, when we can allow the Great Silence to wrap itself around us like a soft robe as candlelight warms our surroundings; and may these blessed days of silence leave us refreshed and strengthened to return to the world in tranquility and joy!

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Another month has rolled around, dear Friends of Silence, and how grateful I am for another opportunity to "visit” with all of you! It is good to be reminded occasionally to be consciously grateful for all our many blessings. How often do we really stop to think about them intentionally? We receive so many, large and small, obvious and subtle. We all "get” the big ones: when we or a loved one has a close call, for example, and comes through whole and healthy instead of hurt or ill. But what of those everyday, business-as-usual blessings? A shower after a long dry spell . . . having a free morning to relax and read . . . even finding our glasses when we've mislaid them! And what about the things that don't feel so positive when they happen? That's when we must recall that all is gift—sometimes, perhaps, even the more difficult moments. Let us strive be conscious of and grateful for all that is so freely given.

September Greetings, Dear Friends of Silence! The summer vacations and holidays are about over now, and after a relaxing and renewing time for all of us, it's time now to return to our regular routines. As Kahlil Gibran says in The Prophet, "Work is love made visible.” Our work is our service to the world, our gift to the world. We are thankful for opportunities to make our love visible in this manner, grateful for work to which to return; and our prayerful thoughts and concern are with those in our midst who are not so fortunate. May all of us find our right work in the world, and may we perform it with gladness and love!

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Summer Greetings, dear Friends! It is the season of vacation trips, bright summer colors, gardens in full growth preparing for a bountiful harvest, blue skies, sunshine, swimming and picnicking. In short, a busy, outward-oriented time of year. Where is there time for prayer in all this activity? We tend to think of prayer as a quiet, inward-looking pursuit, and it feels more natural to focus on it during deep winter months when nature herself draws inward into silence. But there are many ways to pray. As we eagerly look for new flowers in bloom, as we are stilled for a moment before a blazing sunset over the ocean, as we are humbled by the miracles of growth all around us . . . are these not prayers of gratitude?

What does it mean to offer blessing to one another? In To Bless the Space Between Us, John O'Donohue writes that it would be very lonely to live in a world without blessing. We cannot exist alone; we need others, to talk with, walk with, to offer companionship, comfort and support at times, to laugh with, to cry with. All of us need intimacy, a sense of belonging, of being valued. A blessing can evoke all of those things. As O'Donohue so beautifully writes, a blessing "touches that tender membrane where the human heart cries out to its divine ground. . . . Regardless of our differences in religion, language, or concept, there is no heart that is without this inner divine reference." So offering a blessing brings us closer to the sacred in each other, and closer to the Divine Ground of our being. May we remember to offer and to be blessings to one another!

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Greetings and Beautiful Blessings, dear friends! It is easy to find beauty everywhere we look as the earth bursts forth with new growth and lovely blooms. Beauty makes no demands on us at such times except that we open our eyes and look about us. But in other seasons of our lives, more may be required of us. It can be necessary to first find beauty within ourselves in order to perceive it without; and sometimes our search is not easy. We may feel at times that we are filled with darkness, that there could not be anything but ugliness inside us. But beauty is there, too, and we will find it as we turn our gaze deeply inward and silently ask that the beautiful light of the sacred fill us and radiate outward in all directions. Once we know it within, we will find it everywhere we look; for, as Nan Merrill once said, “Beauty and love cut through illusion.”

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Warm, spring greetings, dear friends! The earth is waking around us and the sweet notes of birdsong return to our early morning silence. What better time to recall Nan Merrill's beautiful words in the April 2008 FOS:  "To spend time in Nature's tapestry of Life is like opening an amazing gift: an instruction book of Love and Life given to us by the Creator, Source of All Being. Here we can see how we participate in the seasons of our lives, the interplay and interconnectedness of all things that sustain our lives, the beauty and wisdom of unity in diversity, and the intricate patterns of every form of life. Celebrating, honoring, and learning from this Divine Gift is in a very real sense to reverence our own lives and the life of the planet, which depend on Nature's abundant bounty. May we share and care for Nature's gifts with equity and gratitude.

Early spring blessings, dear friends! Up north our slumbering earth is gradually beginning to shake itself awake, while further south we already see signs of the mystery of growth and transformation. That which has been sleeping awakens, and the mysterious cycle of life begins again. In this age of what has been called "information overload," we are nurtured by the mysteries of life. While reams of information are available to us at any moment and our minds are constantly busy, always expanding our stores of knowledge, at the same time our souls are starving, yearning for time and space to rest in the Great Mystery. We can build bridges between our minds' knowledge and our  souls' longing in the deep silence that is always available to hold us in loving embrace.

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Greetings from the heart, dear Friends of Silence! In contemplating the nature of love, we find it hard to pin down to any one definition. Love is all-encompassing, ever flowing. Love knows no walls, it permeates everything and is visible in everything to those with eyes to see. The nature of God is love, and the nature of all God's creation is love. Our own deepest nature is of that same divine love. It is our task to find that love in ourselves, be open to it, remain in constant contact with it, and allow it to guide and direct our lives. In the silence, it is possible to rest there for a time and then to return to our busy lives with greater awareness of and ability to bring love to all our actions and interactions. May it be so!

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NEW YEAR’S GREETINGS, Dear Friends of Silence.  What is your deepest, most heartfelt hope for this year?  No doubt we all have many hopes and wishes as we usher in yet another new year.  It is traditional to make "New Year’s Resolutions" when the year changes, but what if we made a list focused on our hopes for the year instead of making resolutions?  What if we made only one resolution: to dwell in hope?  How might we (and the world!) change if we truly live in hope?  As we sit in silence daily, let’s reflect deeply on our hopes, for the world and for ourselves.  We may be surprised by how it affects our lives and those around us!

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Warm greetings, dear friends, in this blessed season! As we journey through our lives, may we walk with awareness of our accompanying angels, knowing we may experience them in many ways. Angels may bring comfort when we are suffering, peace that calms raging inner wars, hope in times of despair. And during normal, everyday times, when nothing significant seems to be happening and we seem to be just plodding along, our angels, with their gentle humor, joy, laughter, and warm presence, can add a wonderful lightness to our lives. IF, that is, we remember to ask them for what we need! Be sure to include your angels in all your days; be open to their surprises, talk to them, ask them for any help you need, from the most mundane to the very important.  You may be amazed at what happens -- and don’t forget to thank them for always being there!

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Warm greetings, dear friends! As the year draws to a close, the world around us seems to slow down, reflecting a drawing inward, a time of rest to rebuild reserves of strength, food for another active season of growing and producing. The earth lies fallow, while deep within, that which is necessary for life and growth replenishes itself. We would do well to observe and take in this valuable lesson from nature. We, too, need time to lie fallow, time to just be, to listen and dream and wait for the wisdom at the center of our being to make itself known to us before we enter again into a busy season of doing. In the silence we come home to ourselves, we remember who we are; in the silence we are renewed and strengthened for the seasons of our lives.

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Greetings, dear FOS friends. Consider for a moment the conundrum of TRUTH. Every tradition and many individuals claim to know Truth, but the various belief systems can be quite different. Surely we cannot all be right, so...what is Truth? Picture in your mind a huge circle, with Truth sitting in the center and all the people of the world sitting around the circumference. Each of us is looking at Truth, but since we are all seeing it at a slightly different angle, no two of us will see exactly the same thing. How then do we know what Truth is? How do we recognize it? We can take our confusion into the silence and ask That which is deepest within us to help us recognize truth when and where we find it, for Truth is to be found within us. It is there in the deepest part of us, that place where a spark of God resides, just waiting for us to seek it.

Autumn blessings to each of you, dear friends of silence!  It's hard to believe summer vacations are over and harvest time, with fall activities and duties is here.  As we return to our workplaces, consider Gibran’s teaching: "Work is your love made visible."   Adding consciousness and attention to the skills we bring to our workplace is demonstrating love visibly, and what a difference it can make!  For as within, so without: If we work consciously and with love shining, we are adding Light to our surroundings and others will respond to it.  That still point deep within can guide us from day to day, from moment to moment, and promote a more peaceful, cooperative atmosphere as we go about our duties.  So may it be for each of us!
 

Summer Blessings, dear friends!  Vacation season is here and many of us are traveling in the literal sense during these months.  Opportunities for rest, relaxation, and fun are real gifts, and we enjoy visiting  new places and exploring unfamiliar surroundings.  As we travel in the world, our spiritual journey is ongoing as well, down at the heart of everything.  It's wonderful to have opportunities to  enjoy all we see and hear and taste and feel outwardly, but let us also be attentive to what is happening on the inner path.  Inner and outer often overlap, and we may become aware of marvelous cues and synchronicities in the outer world that offer opportunities for much growth and progress on our inner journey.

Warm greetings, dear friends of silence!  We are having most unsettled weather here in Missouri in recent weeks, and in some ways it reflects what we must all feel at times in our lives.  You know the feeling: scattered, as though we were being pulled in too many directions at once and feeling too many claims on our time.  At such times, we may feel particularly unsettled and badly in need of healing, being knit back together into a calm serenity.  "Healing" can have many meanings, of course.   We think first of being cured of a disease, but there is a deeper and more holistic meaning of the word, too.  When we sink into the depths of ourselves in sacred silence, we find what we need to be truly healed, in ways our conscious minds may have not yet perceived.  May we experience the healing we need, in whatever form that may take, as we enter the silence together.

We warmly welcome you, dear friends, to Still Point Mountain Retreat, the new home of Friends of Silence.  We hope you will come and discover the “still point” of your “turning world,” where in the words of T.S. Eliot there is “neither movement from nor towards, neither ascent nor decline,” and where “except for the still point, there would be no dance, and there is only the dance.”

Nestled next to the 1400-acre nature preserve of Rolling Ridge, near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, Still Point offers a secluded setting for personal retreat, families, small groups, and occasional special-topic retreats.  Still Point’s  3-bedroom, 2- bath log cabin, 1-room guest cottage, 2 teepees, and camping space offer sacred space to reflect, pray, relax, and enjoy the beauty of wilderness.

Check the new Friends of Silence website for information on facilitated group retreats, private retreat space, spiritual direction and other resources.  

Warm, Springtime Greetings, dear friends!  The changing of seasons always brings to mind that well known passage in Ecclesiastes, "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven."  Consider the vast meaning within so few words!  How does nature know?  How do those perennials we plant know when to begin to grow again, the trees to begin budding and leafing?  How do the birds know when to migrate back to their summer homes, to begin mating and nesting?  The will to grow and expand is directed by a life force beyond our human comprehension.  We can only observe in awe and gratitude the world our Creator has given us.  As we fall silent before such miracles, let us ask for help in caring for the earth and its treasures that they may continue to sustain us and all future generations in abundance and in beauty.

Blessings of Wisdom to all of you, dear friends of silence!  The term "sophia perennis" (perennial wisdom) seems to imply that wisdom is always with us, and yet sometimes it seems to be so sadly lacking.  Emily Dickinson wrote about truth, "The truth must dazzle gradually or every (hu)man be blind."  Perhaps something similar is true of wisdom: it comes gradually, or it would be beyond our understanding.  But perhaps, also, we too often do not look for it, or even think about it.  For wisdom is ever with us, in the deepest part of our being, and all around us in the natural world, where we can see it at play if we but pay attention.  Internally we can find it by sinking into our silent depths and listening.  May Wisdom abound in the world!
 

Warm, winter greetings, dear friends. It is still cold in areas that experience seasonal change, but we are past the Winter Solstice and there's an almost imperceptible increase in the hours of daylight. And even on the coldest of days, the light of compassion can warm us. It has been said that compassion is at the heart of all the world’s religions, but it can be difficult sometimes to find it in our own hearts or even to adequately define it. At such times, we can turn within, ask for help, and then, in the silence, listen with our hearts. The answers we need will come. If we but ask and then listen and finally act as our heart directs, we can bring more and more compassion into our suffering world, one heart, one soul at a time.

Season's Greetings to you, dear friends! As we begin another year on this incredible, awesome, yet fragile planet, let us consider a question together: What might happen if each one of us concentrated on discovering and bringing forth the Light deep within ourselves? How might the world change? What might the leaders of the world do differently if each one embraced the Divine Light within him or herself, and in every other person in our world? Deep within, we are Light; our work is to bring forth that Light from the depths and beam it out to our troubled world. "Let your Light so shine . . ." The healing, the very survival, of our world depends on it. May it be so!

Warm greetings and deep peace to you, dear friends of silence. As we approach this season of awe and joy, we look around at our wounded world and wonder, "Where is peace today?" It can be so very difficult to find, when all around us we are witnessing the chaos of natural disasters, wars and conflicts. We must turn within; there is much truth in some of the catch-phrases used today, like "Peace begins with me" and "Be the peace you wish to see in the world." Peace is our divine birthright: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you . . ." Let us turn within, we lovers of silence, and claim peace for ourselves, for only when each of us is peace can there be peace in the world.

Greetings and gratitude, dear friends! As Thanksgiving approaches and we are reminded of our many blessings, you, our community at large, immediately come to mind. In our noisy world, how difficult it sometimes seems to find the silence that feeds our souls! We are surrounded by so many bells and buzzers, alerts and reminders -- telephones, doorbells, computer prompts and all kinds of warning beeps, the roar of traffic, radio and TV. How comforting, then, to think of all of you "out there” and recall that we all carry within us the silence we so need. We can meet together in that silent inner space at any time, wait together for the one sound that matters: that still, small voice that speaks always to those who take the time to listen. Let us gather there often.

Namaste, dear friends around the world! One of the ways this greeting is translated from the Sanskrit is:

"I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells, I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Truth, of Light, and of Peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One."

Let us strive to dwell in that place within ourselves more and more, until finally we are able to live the truth that we are, truly, all one in the One. Only in this way can wars cease; only when we all dwell in our unity can we bring peace to the world. May we come to know this truth in the depths of our being as we meet together in oneness in the Silence. Namaste!

Greetings, dear Friends of Silence!

When you think of the concept of "time," what comes to mind? Usually it is schedules and deadlines and rushing around! But there’s another perspective . . . think of mountains, oceans, rivers, ancient trees, those things of this world that suggest words like "eternal" and "everlasting." For we know the whole concept of time is our idea, not our Creator’s, and that there is no such artificial construct in eternity. Even if we have to schedule it by this world’s idea of time, we can step into that stream of eternity at any time by going within, entering the Great Silence. There we become part of it, and while we are there time no longer exists. Turning inward, becoming part of no-time, refreshes us and often colors our perceptions so that when we return to this world of deadlines and time constraints, we are more able to "go with the flow" and view our world with new vision.

Summer Blessings, dear friends! Looking back over past issues of Friends of Silence, Nan Merrill's words on "freedom" from two years ago seem even more appropriate for today, given the current devastation and grief so prevalent in our world:

"Freedom is very much in our hearts and minds these days. But freedom is just a word, a concept; an ideal until we will it in our individual lives. We cannot have outer freedom, however, if inwardly we are imprisoned by our fear and all its negative companions. Yet blessed are we who choose to face our fears, one by one. . ."

May we so choose as we meet together in the silence of our innermost being. May we project strength and love outward to our suffering planet and all its inhabitants. As Nan went on to say, "Silence is the golden key that helps us open our heart-gate wider and deeper toward freedom: thus, we bless the world."

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