Lindsay McLaughlin

October 2022 (Vol. XXXV, No. 9)

Dear Friends ~ When in the Northern Hemisphere the trees lay down their green chlorophyll to reveal their leaves' true, resplendent colors, and ruby sunsets bring sweet darkness ever sooner within the daily round, my soul trembles and sighs before these harbingers of Mystery. Mystery not in the sense of something to shrug and accept; I mean something Magnificent and Holy, accessible only through heart and humility, the prelude to transformation and the portal to belonging, to finding one's place as Mary Oliver says in "the family of things." When attended to this way, the gradual releasing and darkening going on in the natural world resonates with Presence and the promise of possibilities just beyond the veil. May you, dear ones, find in this season much to awaken and inspire you. May you be drenched in Mystery and drawn into the Heart of Love. ~ Lindsay

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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..."

January 2022 (Vol. XXXV, No. 1)

Dear Friends ~ Janus, from whom January takes its name, sits on the threshold of the year looking both ahead and behind. Janus calls us to consider the shape of our days and how we loved in the time before and how we will shape our days and love in the time to come. In the last year I moved from forest to village, and now find myself drawn more deeply into communion with the close-in, human warp and woof within the vast web of all beings. I have a multitude of opportunities for personal encounter, to be intimate with grief and failure as well as joy and triumph. As I ponder, in the dark hours before dawn, the crux of the question for me is whether I allowed my heart to be broken, inviting grace to enter and forgiveness to flow, and whether I will have courage for such resilient vulnerability in the year ahead. Forgiveness is the tensile strength in the fabric of community; without it relationships fray.

October 2021 (Vol. XXXIV, No. 9)

Dear Friends ~ The newspaper article reporting that rates of insomnia have skyrocketed during the pandemic did not surprise me, perhaps because 3 a.m. is an hour I have inhabited lately too. So much is unsettled and unsettling, and what is known is heartbreaking. How do we navigate through such uncertainty and loss? There is no straight nor easy way, but there are tracings on the map of ancient wisdom that may be discerned if we peer closely with the eyes of soul and heart and listen for the voices of those calling us to still our noisy minds and bend down in the Silence to study here and look there. Thus, we may find guidance, encouragement, and waypoints by which to steer through the dark night.

Here is what is known

Here is what is known: gifts upon gifts cascade down the air without ceasing through the turning days ... there is a vast conversation going on all around us, under our feet and in the surrounding air. The many species of insect and animal life are moving and breathing, eating and excreting, emerging and dying, all part of the web of life which holds us and every being, an immense compass of wordless wisdom, a thousand teachers and guides waiting for our attention.
~ Lindsay McLaughlin from "Holy Ground" on the Friends of Silence blog

May 2021 (Vol. XXXIV, No. 5)

Dear Friends ~ May, the month of spring in its fullness, a lovely midway point in the journey to the glorious long hours of summer light. The season is one of blossoming and resurgent life. There is much to be grateful for, to celebrate, to love. Yet as I walk in the greening forest so dear to me, I hold the knowledge that nothing stays: I have left my daily, intimate acquaintance with this place. The forest, for her part, is passing too: already the bluebells by the river's edge have vanished; the dogwood blossoms have fallen. Moreover, the changing climate is putting its own mark on many of the places and beings I have cherished. This is the exquisite melody of mortality. Mary Oliver hums it in giving her well -known advice on living from her poem "In Blackwater Woods":

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing

January 2021 (Vol. XXXIV, No. 1)

Dear Friends ~ Fire. It has been lighting my imagination. In bitter January the warmth and glow of fire sings of comfort and hope in the darkness. Yet as wildfires burned through the wilds of Australia and the hills of California this summer, it was fire's power to destroy that captured me. This led me to ancient stories in which fire consumes the world, only to have life return from a tendril in the ashes. Indeed fire appears all over the sacred, mythic universe: it is the possession of gods, the element of miracle, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and the oldest thing there is, burning beneath the stew that contains the seeds which sustain life. In this time of upheaval and turmoil, of climate collapse and pandemic, it is fire's mysterious alchemical ability to transform anything and everything that illumines the possibility of regeneration and grace.

November 2020 (Vol. XXXIII, No. 10)

Dear Friends ~ It is the season of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, when the creatures slow and burrow into the Earth. The plants allow their chlor ophyll to drain from their leaves and their sap to sink into the roots. Everything seems to be moving inward, releasing, and letting go. There is comfort in observing that quiet and sure return, a balm for us who are facing so much loss and death. The late autumn with its sense of cycles and transformation softens me to reacquaint myself with a dark angel, one whom I seldom have the heart to acknowledge. There is an ancient song that speaks of the intimacy of our formation in the dark cottage of our mother 's womb, of the deep connection with the Holy that is our birthright. We are cradled in an immense and personal belonging, in a loving communion that wheels and wheels.

May 2020 (Vol. XXXIII, No. 5)

Dear Friends ~ The willow stump, cracked and gray, has sprouted fresh fronds. They wave brightly above the old tree's broken trunk like a vibrant pennant. Meanwhile, the long-unpruned pear tree is grandly and boldly attired in abundant white blossoms. Brilliant yellow finches and glossy cowbirds adorn the feeder once again. Such heralds of Earth's faithful renewal, of the cycles that are always ending and beginning again, cry out profound and essential news. In this time of climate crisis, cultural turmoil, and now the coronavirus, hope takes on a deeper, more intense hue. I wonder if it is the moment now to dig in soul ground, in the bowels of what we know. Ancient wisdom from every spiritual tradition beckons us to kneel down into the mystery of that dark hummus and dig with open hands. Who knows what we may find? A tap root, an anchor, a wellspring, a seed that one day will grow? ~ Lindsay

January 2020 (Vol. XXXIII, No. 1)

Dear Friends, We stand on a threshold, peering at a new year, "full of things that have never been" (Teilhard de Chardin); an in-between space, suspended between what we think we know and worlds we cannot see, the ringing now before what comes next. We come to thresholds like these hauling courage with trembling hands. Will we step through to peril? to transformation? Sages say both. Yet we are not bereft. We can catch light for the journey, provisions for the road.

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