May 2022 (Vol. XXXV, No. 5)

Dear Friends ~ Last month Bob referenced the "4am Club". I am a card-carrying member of the club, as you are, as we all are in these sleepless nights and dark days. Yet Jackie's poem of welcome to the club did not end in loneliness, but with the warmth of being held and the revelation of "unfathomable love". This is resilience, the tenacity that comes from experiencing irrefutable evidence that our present reality is not all there is.

I have a friend who when facing what is hard and the unmovable recalls as a child reading C.S. Lewis's evocative tale of Aslan and the Witch of Narnia. The Lion has given his life in exchange for a traitorous boy, and the Witch gloats because she knows that nothing can overturn the Law and the Deep Magic from the dawn of Time. But the next morning, the grieving girls who have come to retrieve the carcass find a very much alive Aslan who explains, "...though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still..."

Thank You!

We would like to thank you, our amazing Friends of Silence, for supporting the resilience of our humble ministry. In February we made an additional appeal so that we could continue to send the Letter in these difficult times. Your response was generous, heartfelt, and astonishing. We are deeply grateful.

The Divine Plan

Let us sing to the Creator of the cosmos,
to the divine power of love!
When we look at the wondrous display
of the heavens,
at the Earth with its infinite
variety of life,
Who are we that You love us, that You
rejoice in our being;
that You trust us to care for creation
in all its splendor,
inviting us to become co-creators
with You?
Let us celebrate the mystery of life!
Let us commit our lives to
the Divine Plan!
~ Nan C. Merrill in MEDITATIONS AND MANDALAS

Achieving Perspective

Straight up away from this road,
Away from the fitted particles of frost
Coating the hull of each chick pea,
And the stiff archer bug making its way
In the morning dark, toe hair by toe hair,
Up the stem of the trillium,
Straight up through the sky above this road right now,
The galaxies of the Cygnus A cluster
Are colliding with each other in a massive swarm
Of interpenetrating and exploding catastrophes.
I try to remember that.

And even in the gold and purple pretense
Of evening, I make myself remember
That it would take 40,000 years full of gathering
Into leaf and dropping, full of pulp splitting
And the hard wrinkling of seed, of the rising up
Of wood fibers and the disintegration of forests,
Of this lake disappearing completely in the bodies
Of toad slush and duckweed rock,
40,000 years and the fastest thing we own,
To reach the one star nearest to us.
~ Pattiann Rogers, "Achieving Perspective" in THE GRAND ARRAY

The Zero Circle

Be helpless, dumbfounded,
Unable to say yes or no.
Then a stretcher will come from grace
to gather us up.

So let us rather not be sure of anything...
Then miraculous beings come running to help.
Crazed, lying in a zero circle, mute,
We shall be saying finally,
With tremendous eloquence,
Lead us.
When we have totally surrendered to that beauty,
We shall be a mighty kindness.
~ Rumi from "The Zero Circle"

Although the wind

Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.
~ Izumi Shikibu from "Although the wind...,"translated by Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Aratani, in THE INK DARK MOON

The universe makes a sound

The universe makes a sound — is a sound. In the core of this sound there's a silence, a silence that creates that sound, which is not its opposite, but its inseparable soul... Silence is a flower, it opens up, dilates, extends its texture, can grow, mutate... It can watch other flowers grow and become what they are.
~ Etel Adnan in SHIFTING THE SILENCE

Optimism

More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam
returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous
tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side,
it turns in another. A blind intelligence, true.
But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers,
mitochondria, figs — all this resinous, unretractable earth.
~ Jane Hirshfield from "Optimism" in GIVEN SUGAR, GIVEN SALT: POEMS

Don't Hesitate

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don't hesitate.
Give in to it.
There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be.
We are not wise, and not very often kind.
And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left.
Perhaps this is its way of fighting back,
that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world.
It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins.
Anyway, that's often the case.
Anyway, whatever it is, don't be afraid of its plenty.
Joy is not made to be a crumb.
~ Mary Oliver, "Don't Hesitate," in SWAN: POEMS AND PROSE POEMS

My heart is moved

My heart is moved by all I cannot save: So much has been destroyed. I have to cast my lot with those who age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.
~ Adrienne Rich in DREAM OF A COMMON LANGUAGE

Trees are an invitation

Trees are an invitation to think about time and to travel in it the way they do, by standing still and reaching out and down.
~ Rebecca Solnit in ORWELL'S ROSES

We live in a moment of grace

We live in a moment of grace. Through the hedges of our divisions we are beginning to glimpse again the beauty of life's oneness. We are beginning to hear...the essential harmony that lies at the heart of the universe. And we are beginning to understand...that we will be well to the extent that we move back into relationship with one another, whether as individuals and families or as nations and species. The time is right. The time is desperately right.
~ John Philip Newell in A NEW HARMONY

Opens you to the world

The Burren is an extraordinary—and strange—place. Miles and miles of hills are covered in limestone, like the paving of some old gods...Here, wildflowers grow, sheep pick their way through, grasses wave, and stone walls are built by locals...To be in the Burren is to bear witness to the unexpected ways that the particularity of place opens you to the world.
~ Padraig O'Tuama in "The Pause" e-newsletter

It began in mystery

It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery,
but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.
~ Diane Ackerman in A NATURAL HISTORY OF THE SENSES

The conclusion is always the same

The conclusion is always the same:
love is the most powerful
and still the most unknown
energy of the world.
~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

April 2022 (Vol. XXXV, No. 4)

Dear Friends ~ We have all probably had our sleepless nights this month as the dark clouds of suffering and war gather and storm across our bedtime fears. During one recent, restless night, my beloved of fifty years invited me to sit with her at the "4am Club." Here is Jackie's welcome. Perhaps you would like to join us? ~Bob

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The 4am Club

Welcome to the 4am Club.
It's well-attended.
People come and go freely.
There are no membership fees.
Drop-ins are always welcome.

Some people bring their physical pain:
headaches, back aches, restless legs.
Some bring their soul pain.
The language of tears is spoken.

Emotions circulate around the room:
fear, sadness, shame –
all the ones that crawl under the bed
when daylight comes.

Often prayers are whispered.
Blessings are blown across the miles
to loved ones.
Healing incantations are said
for those who suffer.
Peace is yearned for.
Thanksgivings echo through the night.

In the generosity of darkness and silence,
dreams are remembered:
nighttime dreams, childhood dreams, daydreams awaken forgotten pathways.

From time to time, joy pops in for a visit.
So do the cats. Lured by magic,

~ Jackie Sabath

O Lord

O Lord, remember not only men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they inflicted on us. Remember the fruits we have borne thanks to this suffering: our comradeship, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of this; and when they come to judgment let all the fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.

~ Written on a piece of wrapping paper found near the body of a dead child in Ravensbruck where 92,000 women and children died in the Holocaust

Conscious suffering

There is a piece of suffering which is a river that flows through the human condition and is part and parcel of our arising itself. Eckhart Tolle talks about it as the 'collective pain body of humanity.' Conscious awakening does not put a final end to suffering, but rather, allows us to bear it in a way that is luminous, generous, and ultimately sacramental. Through our prayers and our presence, we take our part in bearing the cost of this precious divine finitude, in which and through which infinite love is revealed.

What we do know is that great injustice, cruelty, physical pain, or betrayal, when consciously accepted and generously borne, can give rise to a peculiarly luminous and healing quality of love, and that this love radiates out from the site of the pain as a source of healing and hope for the entire cosmos.
~ Cynthia Bourgeault from 'Conscious Suffering' in Spiritual Practices from the Gurdjieff Work, www.spiritualityandpractice.com/ecourses/course/view/181

The hill we climb

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
~ Amanda Gorman from "The Hill We Climb"

Wisdom comes

Wisdom comes alone through suffering.
~ Aeschylus

Who can take away suffering

In short: who can take away suffering without entering it?
~ Henri J. M. Nouwen in THE WOUNDED HEALER

On our earth

Is there suffering upon this new earth? On our earth we can only love with suffering and through suffering. We cannot love otherwise, and we know of no other sort of love.
~ Fyodor Dostoevsky in THE DREAM OF A RIDICULOUS MAN

There must be a meaning in suffering

If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete.
~ Viktor E. Frankl

The most beautiful people we have known

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
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