Anne Strader

December 2012 (Vol. XXV, No. 11)

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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November 2012 (Vol. XXV, No. 10)

"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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October 2012 (Vol. XXV, No. 9)

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 2012 (Vol XXV, No. 8)

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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July/August 2012 (Vol. XXV, No. 7)

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?

June 2012 (Vol. XXV, No. 6)

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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May 2012 (Vol. XXV, No. 5)

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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April 2012 (Vol. XXV, No. 4)

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.

March 2012 (Vol. XXV, No. 3)

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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February 2012 (Vol. XXV, No. 2)

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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