April 2020 (Vol. XXXIII, No. 4)

Dear Friends ~ Spring has arrived in all its glory. As I walk the labyrinth at Still Point, the Friends of Silence retreat house where Nan Merrill's library lives, I'm reminded time and again that "This is Holy Ground," both secretly and brazenly transforming itself in all seasons. Winter was mild in West Virginia with crocuses up early by the front step. March brought hints of the transformation to come. Shadowed by the dark clouds of Corona Virus spreading through the world, daffodils bloomed in profusion down by the pond and at the woods' edge.

The renaissance being celebrated

...Open my eyes to the moments of resurrection that surround me every day. There is always something rising, opening to new life, budding and blossoming, forgiving and transforming. Teach me to live awake that I may recognize the renaissance being celebrated in my midst at every moment. Make me a disciple of joy. Amen.
~ Macrina Wiederkehr in THE FLOWING GRACE OF NOW

Resurrection

Stump dead with rot, sprouts
Single moss spore, emerald green
Resurrection sings.

~ Mary Ann Welter, "Resurrection"

Held

We carried our grief
to the ocean's edge,
sat quiet in the sand;
the sorrow softened
as the waves washed
over them and the
brilliance of the
morning sun upon
the shimmering waters
filled our hearts
with wonder.

~ Rob Soley, "Held" from MOVING DAY

It's time to make some new threads

Women are spinners and weavers; we are the ones who spin the threads and weave them into meaning and pattern. Like silkworms, we create those threads out of our own substance, pulling the strong, fine fibers out of our own hearts and wombs. It's time to make some new threads; time to strengthen the frayed wild edges of our own being and then weave ourselves back into the fabric of our culture. Once we knew the patterns for weaving the world; we can piece them together again...we can remake the world. This is what women do. This is our work.
~ Sharon Blackie in IF WOMEN ROSE ROOTED

A blessing is a form of grace

A blessing is a form of grace; it is invisible. Grace is the permanent climate of divine kindness. There are no limits to it... For one who believes in it, a blessing can signal the start of a journey of transformation. It belongs to the same realm as the inner life— its effect becomes only indirectly visible in the changed quality of one's experience. Where before gravity and deadness had prevailed, there is now a new sense of animation and lightness. Where there was grief, a new sense of presence comes alive. In the wall of blindness a window of vision opens.
~ John O'Donohue,"To Retrieve the Lost Art of Blessing," in TO BLESS THE SPACE BETWEEN US

Practice Resurrection

So, friends, every day do something that won't compute...Give your approval to all you cannot understand...Ask the questions that have no answers. Put your faith in two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years...Laugh. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts...Practice resurrection.
~ Wendell Berry, excerpt from "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front"

May spring come to us

May we today be touched by grace, fascinated and moved by your creation, energized by the power of new growth at work in your world.
May we move beyond viewing this life only through a frame, but touch it and be touched by it, know it and be known by it, love it and be loved by it.
May our bodies, our minds, our spirits, learn a new rhythm paced by the rhythmic pulse of the whole created order.
May spring come to us, be in us, and recreate life in us...

~ from the "Chinook Psalter" in Earth Prayers, ed. by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amido

Rise Up in the Morning

Rise up in the early morning when the sun
shines in the east.
Rise up and see the sun as she shines in the earth,
She sheds her kindness on the earth in such splendor.
...Rise, bless the morning...
Your light shall shine...brighter than the sun...
Keep this light shining in your hearts, spirits of earth.

~ by Janet Hurlow "Rise Up in the Morning" from PSALMS FROM THE HILLS OF WEST VIRGINIA with Matthew Fox

Fred Taylor

A Voice not daunted by "You Can't do that!"
A voice lighting fires for children
Whose spark of hope
Is fast sputtering out
A voice that saw the gift in each
And opened the door to winds of change
That ignited the dormant creative possibilities in each
And gave them the vision, power and will to transform
The world.
~ Nancy Van Scoyoc, "Fred Taylor"

In Memoriam

In Memoriam
Fred Taylor
May 23, 1932-November 23, 2019

Fred was the President of the Friends of Silence Board and a founding partner of Still Point Mountain Retreat after his retirement as Executive Director of For Love of Children, a nonprofit organization focused on the needs of at risk children in Washington, D.C.

FLOC's Outdoor program has been an active participant and steward on the Rolling Ridge Conservancy property in West Virginia. Friends of Silence is housed at Still Point and Rolling Ridge. All of us who knew and worked with Fred miss his kindness and his warm way of offering critical insight and practical training in the formation and care of organizations seeking to do good work in the world.

Both "For Love of Children" and "Friends of Silence" are accepting donations in memory of Fred.

March 2020 (Vol. XXXIII, No. 3)

Dear Friends ~ The year after my first child was born could have been called A Crash Course in the Contemplative Life. Overnight my daily landscape shifted from the external and the social, to the internal and the domestic. My driving need for productivity and efficiency made no sense in a newborn's routine. I faced rhythmic but unscheduled days with swaths of quiet time. A part of me panicked without the markers of purpose and meaning I had always used to define myself, but the new pulse of our home and the simple yet powerful needs of my baby created a steady familiarity with silence.

God has made a home in us

God who loves us knows us. We long to be known, not only from the outside but from within. We feel that if others knew us as we really are, with our hopes, dreams and struggles to be whole, they would have a compassionate and tolerant love for us. Conversely, were we to live for an hour within the mind of another, even that of a social outcast, we would come away humbled and more understanding. We cannot know people from within, only from without and with difficulty despite our love. Not so with God. The Spirit of God has been poured out on us. God has made a home in us.

~ by Sean Caulfield in THE GOD OF ORDINARY PEOPLE

The warmth of encouragement when we need to unfold

What if becoming who and what we truly are happens not through striving and trying but by recognizing and receiving the people and places and practices that offer us the warmth of encouragement when we need to unfold?
How would this shape the choices you make about how to spend today?

~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer from Prelude to "The Dance"

Your true home

Let go into the clear light, trust it, merge with it,
and enter the Silence, your true home.

The more light you allow within you, the brighter the world you live in will be.
~ Shakti Gawain

The forest that always surrounded us

I love you, gentlest of Ways...

You, the great homesickness we could never shake off,
you, the forest that always surrounded us...

~ by Rainer Maria Rilke from "Ich Liebe dich, du sanftestes Gesetz", translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

Home is no longer just a place to eat and sleep

Once we begin to see our lives within our own families as opportunities for spiritual development, the possibility of inner growth is unlimited. Home is no longer just a place to eat and sleep, but a school for our souls and spirits. Each day yields its lesson, and our children and partners become our teachers. We find our rhythm and learn to harmonize. We learn how to cherish and care for one another and how to care for our own souls as well. We learn to dance together, how to lead and when to follow. In so doing, we bring about changes both large and small, for our children, nurtured by rhythm, may ultimately heal and restore the rhythm of the world.
~ by Katrina Kenison in MITTEN STRINGS FOR GOD

The stars up in the bright sky

The stars up in the bright sky
When it's nighttime.
The people eating inside.
The animals eating outside.
Amen.
~ The prayer of a 3-year-old

When someone deeply listens to you

When someone deeply listens to you it is like holding out a dented cup you've had since childhood and watching it fill up with cold, fresh water. When it balances on top of the brim, you are understood. When it overflows and touches your skin, You are loved... When someone deeply listens to you, your bare feet are on the earth and a beloved land that seemed distant is now at home within you.
~ by John Fox in FINDING WHAT YOU DIDN'T LOSE

The house of my soul is narrow

...the house of my soul is narrow; enlarge it that thou mayest enter in.
~ St. Augustine

I belong to the wide wind

Because this bird is singing to me,
I belong to the wide wind,
The people far away who share
The air and the clouds.
Together we are looking up
Into all we do not own
And we are listening.
~ by Naomi Shihab Nye from "Messages from Everywhere"

This room and everything in it

And one day, when I need
to tell myself something intelligent
about love,

I'll close my eyes
and recall this room and everything in it...
~ by Li-Young Lee from "This Room and Everything in It"

The house we live in

What we speak becomes the house we live in.

~ Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

The bright home in which I live

This is the bright home
In which I live,
This is where
I ask
My friends
To come,
This is where I want to love all the things
It has taken me so long
To learn to love.

~ by David Whyte from "The House of Belonging"

February 2020 (Vol. XXXIII, No. 2)

Dear Friends ~ Many years ago, I asked Fr. Aiden, the abbot at St. Anselm's Benedictine Monastery in Washington D.C., "What do you do at the monastery?" Aiden's reply has stayed with me: "We fall and get up. We fall and get up. We fall and get up again." That has also been my experience with trying to establish a daily practice of "centering prayer." For many years, silence was NOT a friend to me: it was a daily humiliation of seeing and bearing the dispersion of my own inner being. Daily sitting was like taking a daily bath in the waters of my own inadequacy and inner contradictions. My working definition of "waking up" was seeing my sleep. I may still be the world's worst contemplative, but gradually I began to soften to this lawful falling away from myself and getting back up, not just while sitting on the morning chair, but as I went throughout the day.

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