December 1992 (Vol. V, No. 11)

BLESSINGS of joy and peace! May the Promise of this season find a home in your heart!

Our lives are a story, dear friends, a pilgrimage in which, hopefully, we grow to spiritual maturity, where we experience inner peace and joy, serenity, in trustfulness, in self-forgetting to self-transcendence. We are invited to surrender to the Holy Mystery together -- in loving communion with one another allowing the Spirit to make us one ... As long as we journey, as long as we are pilgrims and shaping our stories, we cherish the silence at the end of our activity and in the midst of our prayer, where the Holy One is present to be reverenced in mystery and loved in truth.

~ Leo J. O'Donovan
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Only my footsteps in the snow,
Only the glow of my fire,
Only a choir of wind to sing the benediction.
But I feast on memories
In a holy place.
It has been so long since I have heard my own voice
It startles me
When I say the grace.
May all things lost, apart, alone
Find some small shelter of their own.

~ from THE ART OF BEV DOOLITTLE, "A Mountain Man's Christmas" by Elsie Maclay
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A secret sympathy unites a great community. They recognize one another by a sign, by a look, by the magnetic atmosphere that each one emanates; by their silences more than by their words. Like the children of Light, they have the desire to know and to understand, to love and to believe. The countenances of the greatest among them are veiled by a strange melancholy; for the tragedy of the universe weighs heavily upon their hearts. They feel themselves responsible for it, as portions of the earthly providence that watches over human destiny. But through this veil there shines like an aureole of light the inward joy of those who behold Divinity. In the silence they are conscious of being united to all living creatures by an invisible thread.

~ from FROM SPHINX TO CHRIST by Edouard Shure
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Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home ...

~ from "Intimations of Immortality" by William Wordsworth
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One dark night
fired by love's urgent longing
ah, the sheer grace --
I went out unseen,
my house being now all stilled
... with no other light or guide
than the one that burned in my heart.
This guided me
more surely than the light of noon
to where You waited for me
You whom I knew so well.

~ John of the Cross
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Drop down, ye heavens, from above,
O sky distill your balmy showers,
For now is risen the star of love
From the rose Mary, flower of flowers:
The clear Sun whom no cloud obscures,
Surmounting daylight undefiled,
Has come down from Heavenly towers
And unto us is born a child.

~ from "Nativity" by Wm. Dunbar (1500) modern version by Wendell Berry
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The Child is an almost universal symbol for the soul's transformation. The child is whole, not yet divided. When we would heal the mind, we ask this child to speak to us.

~ Susan Griffin
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There must come a winter for every seed. There must come that which protects and shields the seed toward spring, that which indeed gives its life and absorbs the hatred of winter for life, that mysterious essence which is the sacrificial aspect of life. It made the seed possible. It keeps the seed growing in the hidden ways of winter. It takes upon its heart the pangs of Christ-birth, the furor of all the Herods who represent that part of the race which bitterly had died, which had become death incarnate. She understood. He did not speak of such things. They must not be spoken within the seed. But every particle of it must know from within, in the silence.

~ from RANIA by Dane Rudhyar
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November 1992 (Vol. V, No. 10)

GREETINGS, dear friends, and HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! Yes, next month will celebrate five years of this little newsletter being sent out to an ever-growing number of Friends of Silence: from one small contemplative community in the inner city of Detroit to many around the world ... from a few issues being distributed to almost 2700 sent out each month, including a number of Braille copies now available thanks to a friend of silence in prison with a ministry to the blind. Continued gratitude to each one of you who take time in the silence to become a radiation of peace, joy and love for the world!

The law of "thanksgiving" and gratitude is the divine law of multiplication. It is the law of bringing-forth, of creation, of increase. As the heavenly song of the universe pours into our beings in its complete fullness, we come to realize the purpose and the power of such infinite harmony. It is a song of love and devotion, of praise and exaltation, of gratitude and thanks that can clothe one in complete glory. It is the celestial symphony of the universe. It is the "new song" that is not learned in words, but which is felt and released from the very center of the soul. It is divine, perfected love, developed from within by gratitude.

~ from SONS (AND DAUGHTERS) OF GOD by Christine Mercie
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O come, let us sing to the Most High, Creator of the Cosmos;
let us make a joyful song to the beloved!
Let us come to the Radiant One with thanksgiving,
with gratitude let us offer our psalms of praise!
For the Beloved is Infinite, the Breathing life of all.

~ Unknown
Unknown gratitude

Be filled with the Spirit of the Beatitudes: joy, simplicity, mercy. Joy begins within. Perfect joy lies in the utter simplicity of peaceful love. In order to shine out, such joy requires no less than your whole being. Perfect joy is self-giving. Whoever knows it seeks neither gratitude nor kindness. It is sheer wonder renewed by the sight of the generosity of the Giver of all gifts -- material and spiritual. It is thankfulness. It is thanksgiving. Simplicity lies in the free joy of those who keep their heart and mind fixed on Divine Light and Love. Those who live in mercy are neither oversensitive nor constantly disappointed. They give themselves simply, forgetting themselves -- joyfully with all their heart; freely, not looking for anything in return.

~ from AWAKENED FROM WITHIN by Br. Roger of Taize
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I am part of a network of events that have occurred in the lives of many people, some of whom are unknown to me. I know that their deaths must have contributed to my life, and that without them I would not be who I am. To be aware of this is to carry their love within my heart, and to live in a spirit of gratitude.

~ from THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS by Jean Lanier
Jean Lanier The Communion Of Saints gratitude

Expressing gratitude for those who have gone before us is important for a sense of connection and continuity, yet it is from those who walk beside us that we can gain the strength and courage to remain true to one purpose. And what many today are discovering as they "dig a new-way path" is not a teacher or guru or guide, but a "resonator", a friend or companion so true to their own reality that they inspire others to be faithful to theirs. Somehow the resonator calls us to our true selves, reminding us and reflecting to us our deepest possibility, asking the difficult questions and encouraging us to take action.

~ from THE FEMININE FACE OF GOD by Sherry Anderson and Patricia Hopkins with thanks to Martha Gilbert
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Day after day, O God of my life, shall I stand before You face to face? With folded hands, O God of all worlds, shall I stand before You face to face? Under your great sky in solitude and silence, with humble heart shall I stand before You face to face? In this laborious world of yours, tumultuous with toil and struggle, among hurrying crowds, shall I stand before You face to face? And when my work shall be done in this world, O God of All, alone and speechless shall I stand before You face to face?

~ Rabindranath Tagore
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God, Creator
and Sustainer of Life,
we the living praise You;
our hearts and our flesh
sing for joy
as we join with all creation
in a canticle of Thanksgiving
for the blessings
of the universe,
the habitat of all that lives.

Forgive our wanton
and wasteful use
of those good and precious resources
entrusted to our care.
Send forth Your Spirit,
renew the earth
as You renew its caretakers,
for we
and all of creation

Come, Creator Spirit!
Come, Soul of the Universe!
Come, Source of all that Lives!
Come, live in us! Amen!

~ from WOMAN PRAYER WOMAN SONG by Miriam Therese Winter
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What do I have to be thankful for?
I asked myself today.
So I decided to count my joys
As I wandered along my way;
The warmth of a home, the love of friend,
The beautiful sound of the rain;
The still of the night, the touch of a child,
A day that is free from pain.
The light of the sun, the cool of a breeze,
The sound of a waterfall;
But the love of God and the peace it brings
Is the greatest blessing of all!

~ Author Unknown
Unknown gratitude

GRATITUDE: the Great-Attitude
a glorious song of thankfulness
a BE-attitude

~ Unknown
Unknown gratitude

October 1992 (Vol. V, No. 9)

AUTUMN GREETINGS! Now is the time of the harvest. As the trees burst forth in glory, as the earth yields the fruits of spring promise and summer growth, we are reminded to reflect on the changes that occur in our lives in due season. Wise are those who, like Meister Eckhart, acknowledge and reverence the need for silence and solitude. For,

The true Word of eternity will be spoken only in solitude, where people are made desolate and estranged from themselves. This emptiness exerts a profound influence. For if something empty existed under heaven, no matter what you wish and no matter whether it be large or small, love would either carry it to heaven or have to come down and fill it with love. The purpose of emptiness is to receive, to be filled ... God needs nothing more than for us to offer a quiet heart.

~ Meister Eckhart
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Solitude is an attitude of gratitude ... It is a state of mind, a state of heart, a whole universe unto itself. The early contemplatives in all traditions knew this secret of happiness -- that being alone was a great gift. And whether or not we sit upon the mountain top or kitchen stool, whether we seek a sacred place or simply stir the soup, the message is the same. For what does it mean to be alone, if not to be all one. To be who you are already in your deepest self, to be happy.

~ from FOOD FOR SOLITUDE by Francine Schiff
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I, who live by words, am wordless when
I try my words in prayer. All language turns
To silence. Prayer will take my words and then
Reveal their emptiness. The stilled voice learns
To hold its peace, to listen with the heart --
to silence that is joy, is adoration.
The self is shattered, all words torn apart
In this strange patterned time of contemplation
That, in time, breaks time, breaks words, breaks me,
And then, in silence, leaves me healed and mended.
I leave, returned to language, for I see
Through words, even when all words are ended.
I, who live by words, am wordless when
I turn me to the Word to pray. Amen.

~ Madeleine L'Engle
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Only through responsible choice can you choose consciously to cultivate and nourish the needs of your soul, to challenge and release the wants of your personality. This is the choice of clarity and wisdom, the choice of conscious transformation. It is the choice of the higher-frequency energy currents of love, forgiveness and compassion. It is the choice to follow the voice of your higher self, your soul. It is the decision to open yourself to the guidance and assistance of Love. It is the path that leads consciously to authentic power.

~ from THE SEAT OF THE SOUL by Gary Zukav
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The worship of the Great Mystery was silent, solitary, free from all self-seeking. It was silent because all speech is of necessity feeble and imperfect ... it was solitary, because the people believed that the Great Spirit is nearer to us in solitude, and that no one was authorized to come between an individual and the Creator. Among us, all were conscious of their divinity.

~ Ohiyesa, Santee Sioux thanks to Elaine Simard
Ohiyesa silence

If one saw a person who was always loving, but not easygoing; utterly kind, but not to the point of creating dependency; very wise, and clearly able to intuit the future; never condemning, yet always understanding; willing to descend into the mire of human conditions to help someone rise out of it; prepared to share anything they had with another; utterly firm when necessary for the soul's sake; one might say, "S/he is the most Christ-like person I have ever met". But one still would not know the inner status of that person. The most important discoveries we make are not on the level of intellect at all. They are inward knowledge of absolute certitude; this is the result of a grace bestowed when the recipient is inwardly ready to see ... and often arises out of times of silence and solitude.

~ from THE SPIRITUAL PATH by Raynor C. Johnson
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We need interaction with others, and we need activities. We have many gifts to offer those who cross our paths, and we need the many gifts they have to offer us. But we soon have little to share, to give to others, if we neglect the special themes, the empty spaces needed for nurturing the soul. Some time away from people, activities and things, some time away to commune with God, to seek guidance, to seek security in the fullest sense, will prepare us to better give our gifts to others. That time alone will also ready us to accept others' gifts to us.

~ from EACH DAY A NEW BEGINNING by Karen Casey
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May the thoughts we think be pure,
May the words we speak be kind,
May God's love in our hearts be shown and shared
In the daily service of our lives.

~ Neta Kaye Stokely
Neta Kaye Stokely silence

September 1992 (Vol. V, No. 8)

May the BLESSINGS of inner peace and quiet joy be with you! And may times of silence and solitude invite you to smell the roses ... to listen to the breeze-sound ... to really see the changing seasons. And, as you slow down long enough to quiet the inner voices, you may begin to sense the great beauty of all that has been given for you to share.

One evening I laid my finger on my cheek and found to my surprise that it was wet. I wondered what those tears meant. What was I crying for? I wasn't consciously sad at all or consciously happy. I noticed at this moment that behind it all there was a joy, deeper than any personal joy. It was a joy in the face of the beauty of being. A joy at all the wonderful and lovable people I had already met in my life. But at the same moment, I experienced the exact opposite emotion. I hadn't known before that two such contrary feelings could coexist. Because the tears were at the same time tears of immense sadness, a sadness at what we're doing to the earth, a sadness at the people whom I have already hurt in my life, and a sadness too at my own emptiness and stupidity. I still don't know whether joy or pain had the upper hand -- both lay so close to one another.

~ from SIMPLICITY by Richard Rohr
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Let the beauty we love be what we do.There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
~ Jalaluddin Rumi
Jalal Al-Din Rumi beauty

For your prayer, your journey into God,
May you be given a small storm ... named after you.

You begin your storm under the Eye of God.
A watchful, caring eye
gazes in your direction
as you wrestle
with the life force within.

In the midst of these holy winds
In the midst of this divine wrestling
your storm journey
leads you into the eye,
Into the Eye of God
where all is calm and quiet.
A stillness beyond imagining!
Into the Eye of God
after the storm
Into the silent, beautiful darkness
Into the Eye of God.

Macrina Wiederkehr A Tree Full Of Angels beauty Buy on Amazon

The only name for the faculty by which we can discern the element of Beauty which is present in every fact, we must discern in every fact before it becomes truth for us, is love ... The relation between those things is simple and inextricable. When we love a fact, it becomes truth; when we attain that detachment from our passions whereby it becomes possible for us to love all facts, then we have reached our peace. If a truth cannot be loved, it is not truth, but only fact. But the fact does not change in order that it might become truth; it is we who change. All fact is beautiful; it is we who have to regain our innocence to see its beauty.

~ from STUDIES IN KEATS by John M. Murray
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Out of the silence came a vision:

"I have seen a land shining with goodness where each person protects another's dignity as readily as their own, where war and want have ceased and all races live under the same law of love and honor. I have seen a land bright with truth where leaders extend their hands in justice rather than turning to arms, where mercy, kindness and compassion flow like deep water over the land and virtue, truth, and beauty are revered above comfort, pleasure or selfish gain ... a land where peace reigns in every heart, where faith blazes like a beacon from every hill and love like a fire from every hearth. I have seen this land and my heart yearns for it."

~ from TALIESIN by Stephen R. Lawhead
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One thing have I asked of love,
that I shall ever seek:
That I might dwell in the
heart of love
all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of my beloved,
and to know love's plan.

~ Unknown
Unknown beauty

You take the pen -- and the lines dance.
You take the flute -- and the notes shimmer.
You take the brush -- and the colors sing.
So all things have meaning and beauty in that space beyond time where You are.
How then, can I hold anything from You?

~ Dag Hammarskjold
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In beauty there is God, and in beautiful things there is the refinement and cultivation of consciousness. Creative people live in the world of beauty; for, beauty speaks to the heart and silences the mind.

~ R.H.H.
R.H.H. beauty
Beauty is silent eloquence.
~ a French proverb
French Proverb beauty

July-August 1992 (Vol. V, No. 7)

BLESSINGS TO ALL! Gentle days of summer lend themselves to basking in the Presence, to taking quiet moments of just being and listening. For, is in the stillness, in the silence, that the word of God is to be heard. There is no better avenue of approach to this Word than through stillness, through silence. It is to be heard there as it is -- in that unself-consciousness, for when we are aware of nothing, that word is imparted to us and clearly revealed.

~ from MEISTER ECKHART by Meister Eckhart and Raymond B. Blakney with thanks to Fred Cunningham
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Listening to others clearly opens the way to understanding the situation. But listening to others requires quieting some of the voices that already exist within us. When this happens, there is space not only for our own truest voice, what the Quakers call the still small voice within. This voice always tells us the truth. And, as Alice Walker has said,

"...the inner voice can be very scary sometimes. You listen, and then you go 'Do whut?' I don't wanna do that! But you still have to pay attention to it."

We need to take time to quiet down and listen to ourselves with attention -- not only in the midst of action, but when we are alone ... we need to listen fully. It is the basis of all compassionate action.

~ from COMPASSION IN ACTION by Ram Dass and Mirabai Bush
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Gentleness is Your work, my God, and it is the work You have given me to do.

~ Francois Fenelon
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Silence in mercy means more than stilling our tongues whenever we plan to speak unkindly. We must silence our judgmental thoughts as well. Each time we think of another person critically, we need to consciously isolate that thought and replace it with one that is imbued with gracious tolerance for his or her faults ... In such silence, we allow others to exist as God made them to be rather than how we would wish them to be ... Through the use of silence, we not only drive out our desire to dominate and control, but also learn to listen to one another. When we truly hear what others are saying to us in the respectful silence of our heart, we can begin to serve others with mercy, for we now know what they need from us and can respond accordingly.

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O Holy One,
I hear and say so many words,
yet yours is the Word I need.
Speak now,
and help me listen;
and if what I hear is silence,
let it quiet me,
let it disturb me,
let it touch my need,
let it break my pride,
let it shrink my certainties,
let it enlarge my wonder.

~ from GUERRILLAS OF GRACE by Ted Loder with thanks to Anne Strader
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Listening is not always easy. In biting back the urge to interject, to advise, even to condemn, the listener gives him or her self to the other. That giving is an act of love. Dialogue, that is speaking and listening, creates a unity of being, draws us together, pulls us up and out from the "other" everyday world where we are apart into a moment of communion ... Through creative listening we imitate God, the ultimate Listener. God listens, and God waits ... drawing us upward through the sublime power of listening. Dialogue with God and with those we love is the necessary bread of life. Without it we starve.

~ from "Renewing a Marriage" by Walter Reinsdorf in "Fellowship of Prayer" (April 1992)
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We give you thanks,
Gentle One who has touched our soul.
You have loved us from the moment of our first waking
and have held us in joy and in grief.
Stay with us, we pray.
Grace us with your presence
and with it, the fullness of our own humanity.
Help us claim our strength and need,
our awesomeness and fragile beauty,
that encouraged by the truth
we might work to restore
compassion to the human family
and renew the face of the earth.

~ from MORE THAN WORDS by Janet Schaffran and Pat Kozak
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A word with power is a word that comes out of the Silence...
~ Unknown
Unknown listen

In prayer, seek to make yourself into a vessel for God's Presence. See yourself as nothing; only one who is nothing can contain the fullness of the Presence.

There are times when the love of God burns so powerfully within your heart that the words of prayer seem to rush forth, quickly and without deliberation.

At such times it is not you yourself who speak; rather it is THROUGH you that the words are spoken.

~ from YOUR WORD IS FIRE by Dr. Arthur Green and Barry W. Holtz
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June 1992 (Vol. V, No. 6)

BLESSINGS and PEACE be with you all! And an invitation to pause in your day and listen to the melodies your heart sings. For,

God takes such delight in the human person that Divinity sings this song to our soul:

O lovely rose on the thorn!
O hovering bee on the honey!
O pure dove in your being!
O glorious sun in your setting!
O full moon in your course!

From you, I your God will never turn away.

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Can you hear the music?
Can you hear the sound
Of the life that floats by on the wind
Or comes up through the ground?
Its strange enchanting rhythm
Will bring your soul release.
You will hear it and then suddenly
All you've ever known is peace.

Oh, listen to the symphony;
Every note is a new world.
Listen to the music of your destiny
As it unfolds.

~ Michel Worth
Michel Worth music

Among all the different arts, the art of music has been especially considered divine, because it is the exact miniature of the law working through the whole universe.

~ from THE MYSTICISM OF SOUND by Hazrat Inayat Khan
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It is not difficult to understand why music often touches us so deeply. Music is the key to the power within -- a bridge of sorts -- and there is an infinite variety of music suitable to individual tastes and preferences to lead in this inward search. Composers are often aware of the power of the music that comes from within them and have from time to time spoken of it ... Brahms, being deeply aware of the source of his creative gift, stated that his creative power was released in the moment of his realization of his oneness with the Creator.

~ Dr. Phillip D. Crabtree
Dr. Phillip D. Crabtree music

I sing of hemlocks whispering mysteries,
Of meadows green with promise,
Of lakes with secrets,
Of mountain peaks in touch with eternity,
Of solitude filled with murmurings we can never quite hear,
Of presences that hover just beyond the edge of perception,
Of meanings etched in snow, transcribed with wings;
I sing the truth
Of hidden things.

~ from THE ART OF BEVERLY DOOLITTLE by Elise MacLay and Bev Doolittle
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The former musician, Hazrat Inayat Khan gave up the practise of music "to tune souls instead of instruments, to harmonize people instead of notes ... Music, the word we use in our everyday language, is nothing less than the picture of our Beloved ... It is because music is the picture of our Beloved that we love music."

~ Hazrat Inayat Khan
Hazrat Inayat Khan music

Your Light alone -- like mists o'er mountains driven,
Or music by the night-wind sent
Through strings of some still instrument,
Or moonlight on a midnight stream,
Gives grace and truth to life's unquiet dream.

~ Percy Bysshe Shelley
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Carl Hammerschlag relates a healing interaction he had with a very ill old Pueblo priest and clan chief, whom he was treating in the hospital:

Suddenly, there was this beautiful smile, and he asked me, "Where did you learn to heal?"

Although I assumed my academic credentials would mean little to the old man, I responded almost by rote, rattling off my medical education, internship and certification.

Again the beatific smile and another question: "Do you know how to dance?"

... I answered that, sure, I liked to dance; and I shuffled a little at his bedside. Santiago chuckled, got out of bed, and short of breath, began to show me his dance.

"You must be able to dance if you are to heal people," he said.

"And will you teach me your steps?" I asked, indulging the aging priest.

Santiago nodded. "Yes, I can teach you my steps, but you will have to hear your own music.”

~ from THE DANCING HEALERS by Carl A. Hammerschlag with thanks to Elaine Simard
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May I become hollow like the reed, so You may play your melody through me.
For I long to be attuned to the great Song of the Cosmos,
to know the song of inner praise!
O, that I might hear the divine melody within my soul
and give birth to a dancing star!

~ Unknown
Unknown music
Every action of our lives touches some chord that will vibrate in eternity.
~ Unknown
Unknown music
No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made.Destiny is made known silently.
~ Agnes DeMille
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May 1992 (Vol. V, No. 5)

GREETINGS and BLESSINGS be with you, friends! Is your soul awakening to new life as you listen and attend the greening, budding and birthing of a new season? O, that we might slow down for moments each day to attune ourselves and listen! For,

... we overlook so many joys, so many hidden treasures, when we hurry from place to place, person to person, experience to experience, with little attention anywhere. All that matters passes before us now, at this moment. It has been said the greatest gift we can give one another is rapt attention; additionally, living life fully attentive to the breezes, the colors, the sorrows and joys as well, is the most prayerful response any of us can make in this life.

~ from Each Day a New Beginning: Daily Meditations for Women by Karen Casey
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Sometimes little forgotten souls may need to pour out their hearts from sheer empty loneliness. Blessed is the one who is called to listen to their tales with an understanding heart, for love and light. Often just the call to sit quietly and listen may be the power of bestowing the most divine benediction of all. The gift of listening with an understanding heart is a divine gift to be developed by all. For, it is the listening heart that is prepared for the full outpouring of the gift of light. It is the listening heart alone that can hear the voice of God.

~ from SONS OF GOD by Christine Mercie
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If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently -- and even if you do nothing during the whole of your prayer but bring your heart back, though it went away every time you brought it back, your time would be very well employed.

~ St. Francis de Sale
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“Would you teach me silence?" I asked.

"Ah!" He seemed to be pleased. "Is it the Great Silence you want?"

"Yes, the Great Silence."

"Well, where do you think it's to be found?" he asked.

"Deep within me, I suppose. If only I could go deep within, I'm sure I'd escape the noise at last. But it's hard. Will you help me?" I knew he would. I could feel his concern, and his spirit was so silent.

"Well, I've been there," he answered. "I spent years going in. I did taste the silence there. But one day, Jesus came -- maybe it was my imagination -- and said to me simply, 'Come, follow me.' I went out, and I've never gone back."

I was stunned. "But the silence ..."

"I've found the Great Silence, and I've come to see that the noise was all inside.

~ from TALES OF A MAGIC MONASTERY by Theophane the Monk
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Listen, if you can stand to.
Union with the Friend means not being who you've been,
Being instead silence: A place: A view
Where language is inside seeing.

~ Rumi
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Who are You, sweet Light, who inundate me and enlighten me and enlighten the night of my heart? You guide me just like a mother's hand; but if You leave me, I cannot advance a single step. You are space that surrounds my being and in which it is concealed. If you abandon me, I fall into the abyss of nothingness, from where You called me into being. You are nearer to me than myself, more intimate than my inmost being. And yet, no one touches You or understands You and You break the bonds of every name: Holy Spirit - Eternal Love!

~ from LIFE AND LETTERS, 188 by Edith Stein
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Prayer is based on attention to the presence of the sacred in life, and to the thoughts that express our longing for relationship with that presence. And the disciplines of inner guidance are based on attention to the wisdom of the "Still, small voice within." Attention may seem at first like a very ordinary thing. But it is the cornerstone of the spiritual life. In fact, we could say that paying attention is the essence of true spirituality. When we pay attention, whatever we are doing is transformed and becomes a part of our spiritual path.

~ from CHOP WOOD, CARRY WATER by Rick Fields
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I have reached the inner vision
And through your Spirit in me
I have heard your wondrous secret.
Through your mystic insight
You have caused a spring of knowledge
To well up within me,
A fountain of power
Pouring forth living waters,
A flood of love
And of all-embracing wisdom
Like the splendor of eternal Light.

The Book Of Hymns Of The Dead Sea Scrolls attention

There is a channel between voice and presence,
A way where information flows.
In disciplined silence, the channel opens;
With wandering talk, it closes.

~ Rumi
Rumi attention

One of the greatest gifts we can give one another is rapt attention to one another's existence.

~ Sue A. Ebaugh
Sue A. Ebaugh attention

April 1992 (Vol. V, No. 4)

Ah, friends, Spring has come once again! BLESSINGS and PEACE be with you! As our thoughts begin to turn toward gardening and enjoying the new life coming to birth around us, we are invited to spend time in our own cloister garden of the heart. For,

In the silence of the cloister garden a human being is more than human, taking on the subtle wings of light. Nature is more than nature, flowing with the essence of life. People and plants take on the quality of illumination, as they really are. Inside the sweet harmony of the cloister garden live all beings, those who have lived before and all beings unborn. Inside the holy stillness is the collective being: the wisdom, joy and love freed and saved from the hearts of all. And all this is just a small part of the immense being of God in the cloister garden. Every prayer, every meditation that participates in the cloister garden participates in all such gardens through history and the desire for a life that is wholly sacred and blessed. Each morning in the cloister garden is a new day begun in the bright light of the silence. And each evening among the still flowers is to end another day in the arms of silence.

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Teilhard de Chardin practiced the art of self-forgetfulness; the self being forgotten in a sympathetic union with all people and with every man and woman individually. The deep roots of his simultaneous love of God and the world is seen most clearly in THE DIVINE MILIEU:

Throughout my whole life, during every moment I have lived, the world has gradually been taking on light and fire for me, until it has come to envelop me in one mass of luminosity, glowing from within ... The purple flush of matter fading imperceptibly into the gold of spirit, to be lost finally in the incandescence of a personal universe ... This is what I have learned from my contact with the earth -- the diaphany of the divine at the heart of a glowing universe, the divine radiating from the depths of matter aflame ... To overcome every obstacle, to unite our beings without loss of individual personality, there is a single force which nothing can replace and nothing destroy, a force which urges us forwards and draws us upwards: this is the force of love.

~ from THE DIVINE MILIEU by Teilhard de Chardin
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I walk in stillness. Where my rest is set
Is Heaven. And the silence of the stars
Sings in a soundless circle. For the song
Of Heaven is past hearing, and ascends
Beyond the tiny range the ear can catch.
And soars into a spaceless magnitude
Where sound and silence meet in unity,
Holy am I, who bring your Name
With me and who abide in You, although
I seem to walk alone. Look carefully,
And you may glimpse the One who stands
Beside me. And I lean on You in sure
Unswerving confidence. It was not thus
Before, for I was bitterly afraid
To take the Help of Heaven for my own.
Yet Heaven never failed, and only I
Stayed comfortless, while all of Heaven's gifts
Poured out before me. Now the arms of love
Are all I have all my treasure is.
Now I have ceased to question. Now I come
From chaos to the stillness of my home.

~ "The Soundless Song" from THE GIFTS OF LOVE by Helen Schucman
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Sweet song of silence, forever singing in my heart!
Words cannot express, the tongue cannot tell;
Only the heart knows the songs which were never sung,
The music which was never written.
I have heard that great harmony and feast that great presence,
I have listened to the Silence; and in the deep
Places of life, I have stood naked and
Receptive to Your songs and they have entered my soul.
I am lost in the mighty depths of Your inner calm and peace.

~ from THE SCIENCE OF MIND by Ernest Holmes with thanks to Alice Somers 1585428426
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Dear Companion of my day, You are the Holy Mystery I surrender to when I close my eyes. I give You myself, my flaws, the mistakes, the petty self-congratulations. I give You my dear ones: my fondest hopes for them, my worries, and my dark thoughts regarding them. Take my well-constructed separation from me. Hold me in Your truth.

This day is already past. I surrender it. When I think about tomorrow, I surrender it too. Keep me this night. With You and in You I can trust not knowing anything. I can trust incompleteness as a way. Dark with the darkness, silent with the silence, help me dare to be that empty one -- futureless, desireless -- who breathes Your name even in sleep.

~ from Gunilla Norris in CHANGING LIGHT by J. Ruth Gendler thanks to Gay Grissom
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The Beloved's home is our hearts, as we discover in the Silence.
Bless the Beloved, O you angels,
You faith-filled ones who hear the Word, following the Voice of Love!
Bless the Beloved, all you people,
Those who abandon themselves into Love's hands!
Bless the Beloved, bless all of Creation!
Bless the Beloved, O my soul!

~ Unknown
Unknown nature

I plant the Tree of the Great peace. I name the tree the Tree of the Great Long Leaves. If anyone of any nation shall show a desire to obey the laws of the Great Peace, they shall trace the roots to their source, and they shall be welcomed to take shelter beneath the Tree of the Long Leaves. When more people come, the branches of the tree simply grow longer. An eagle lives at the top of the tree and warns the people whenever the peace is threatened.

~ Dekanawidah, founder of the Iroquois Confederation
Dekanawidah nature
Silence speaks loudly.
~ Unknown
Unknown nature

March 1992 (Vol. V, No. 3)

BLESSINGS be with you, friends, in this season that calls us to look within as we take time in silence and solitude.

We need quiet time in the presence of God. Although we want to make all our time time for God, we will never succeed if we do not reserve a specific and consistent amount of time to listen in the Silence. This asks for much discipline and risk-taking, because we often have something more urgent to do and "just sitting there" and "doing nothing" may disturb us more than it helps. But there is no way around this. Being useless and silent in the presence of God belongs to the core of all prayer. In the beginning, we often hear our own unruly inner noises more loudly than God's voice. This is at times very hard to tolerate. But slowly, very slowly, we discover that the silent time makes us quiet and deepens our awareness of ourselves and God. Then, very soon, we start to miss these moments when we are deprived of them, and before we are fully aware of it, an inner momentum has developed that draws us more and more into silence and closer to that still point where God speaks to us.

~ from SEEDS OF HOPE: A HENRI NOUWEN READER ed. Robert Durback
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Contemplation is the central human act that puts us perceptively and lovingly in touch with the innermost reality of everything because it is a simple intuition of the truth.

~ from THE HUMAN ADVENTURE by William McNamara
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The silence of contemplation! Within each of us lie unknown gulfs of doubt, violence, secret distress ... as well as guilt, of things unacknowledged, so that gaping below our feet we sense an immense void. As we let divine love pray in us, trusting as a child, one day these gulfs will be inhabited. And, one day we shall discover that there has been a revolution in ourselves. With time, contemplation begets a happiness. And, that happiness is the drive behind our struggle for and with all people. It is courage, energy to take risks. It is overflowing gladness.

~ from AWAKENED FROM WITHIN by Br. Roger
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I cried to God,
I beat upon the door
Until my knuckles bled;
God gave me no answer, gave no sign.
"There is no God," I sad.
I stopped my clamor
And lay spent,
A channel at ebb tide,
And slowly in the silence
The door swung wide.

~ "Be Still and Know" by Christina Rainsford
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The truth of the hermitage comes down to paradoxes. It empties us so we may be filled; its simplicity is a luxury, and we go there seeking solitude so we can better serve God's people ... Whether we serve as parents, as pastors, as missionaries, as teachers, as peace-makers -- there is a monk in all of us. To get in touch with the silence of God is necessary for everyone. The hermitage allows people to get in touch with that silence. That does not mean the touch only happens here. But it can be refreshed here. It can be strengthened.

~ from "The Gift of Solitude" by Catherine Peck
Catherine Peck The Gift Of Solitude prayer

The life of prayer is a journey with God as well as toward God, a journey in which prayer becomes for those who pursue it as natural as breathing. The first big step is to cease talking TO God and start listening FOR God. And that requires silence. Silence is the language God speaks, and everything else is a translation. "As long as you know you are praying, you are not praying properly", says Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast. When everything we do is prayer, the fruit is an increase in love, patience and compassion for others, leaving behind the unmistakable taste of holiness.

~ from "Talking to God", Newsweek, January 6, 1992
Newsweek prayer

In some religions, prayer is undertaken, not with the intention of influencing a deity, nor with any hope of prayers being directly answered, but in order to produce a harmonious state of mind. Prayer and meditation facilitate integration by allowing time for previously unrelated thoughts and feelings to interact. Being able to get in touch with one's deepest thoughts and feelings, and providing time for them to regroup themselves into new formations and combinations, are important aspects of the creative process, as well as a way of relieving tension and promoting mental health ... Human beings easily become alienated from their own deepest needs and feelings. Learning, thinking, innovation and maintaining contact with one's own inner world are all facilitated by solitude.

~ from SOLITUDE: A RETURN TO THE SELF by Anthony Storr
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Blessed are You, Heart of my heart!
for You heed the cry of my spirit.
You are my strength and my protection;
into your hands I commend my soul.
My heart leaps as You come to my aid,
and my lament becomes
a song of exultation,
a shout of praise to You,
O my Comforter!

~ Unknown
Unknown prayer

May the blessed light be on you, light without and light within. May the blessed sunlight shine on you and warm your heart until it glows like a fire, so that a stranger may come and warm himself at it, and also a friend. May God always bless you, love you and keep you.

~ An Irish Blessing
Irish Blessing prayer

Only when one is connected to one's own core is one connected to others; the core, the inner spring can best be refound through solitude.

~ Unknown
Unknown prayer

February 1992 (Vol. V, No. 2)

Love be with you, friends!

I have found a loving, caring presence as I have listened to my dreams, listened to the silence in the middle of the night and meditated on scripture. In my deepest experience of worship and Eucharist, and in my time of quiet companionship with God, I have met a Divine Lover. I find this Loving One is always there desiring to draw me closer to Love. Again and again, I hear gentle suggestions, when I listen in the midst of troubles, that my best way through them is by practicing unconditional love.

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"Compassion not only helps us co-operate with the movement of Christ's love, it also fulfils us by increasing our capacity to relate to others without which there is no maturity ... The spark in the soul draws a person deeper into the love of the Creator and of the world in a process of mutual enabling. It is impossible to love others in this way while nourishing prejudice, fear and grievances." Compassion invites us to times of silence and to radical trust ... "God, I trust in your sustaining love and believe that just as You give me the grace and desire to offer this, so You will also bestow abundant grace to fulfill it."

~ from THE SPARK IN THE SOUL by Terry Tastard
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If your spirit is not fit to see the Beloved, neither will your heart be a bright mirror, fit to reflect love. It is true that no eye is able to contemplate and marvel at Love's beauty, nor is it capable of understanding; one can no feel toward the Beloved as one feels toward the beauty of this world. But by abounding Grace, we have been given a mirror to reflect the Beloved, and this mirror is the heart. Look into your heart and there you will see Love's image.

~ from THE CONFERENCE OF THE BIRDS by Farid ud-Din Attar and Afkham Darbandi
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Blessed are the consistent in heart; they shall contemplate the one.

Healthy are those whose passion is electrified by deep, abiding purpose; they shall regard the power that moves and shows itself in all things.

Aligned with the One are those whose lives radiate from a core of love; they shall see God everywhere.

Resisting corruption are those whose natural reaction is sympathy and friendship; they shall be illuminated by a flash of lightning: the Source of the soul's movement in all creatures.

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In the core of the human soul there is a central silence. It is here that God enters into the soul. A person finds 'unity and blessing in that little spark in the soul, which neither space nor time touches.' Here is to be found a light that 'wants to penetrate the simple core, the still desert ... to get into the secret, to which no one is privy, where it is satisfied by a light whose unity is greater than it's own. This core is a simple stillness...

~ from DISCOVERING GOD WITHIN by John R. Yungblut
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The Beloved listens
as I dovetail words
into walls
and walk in winter landscapes.

None of the alien, snowbanked roads
lead home. Even as I speak,
the shadows shift
across the stones
I have tried
to mortar into place.

The beloved listens
and weaves willow silences
into my words.

The quietness of Love
builds me a better harbor
than words ever could,
a place from which to sail,
a place to remember
on the map I navigate by,
where the heart of the compass rose is home.

~ J. A. Totts
J. A. Totts love

God truly wishes all to eat and drink deeply of Infinite Love. Alas, how few seek ardently and perseveringly to move beyond desiring only the things of this world that cannot satisfy the burning longing that has been placed in all human hearts to possess God's everlasting Love! ... It is possible for the contemplative to become so centered in the heart with the presence of the indwelling Christ that the thought and presence of the Beloved are always somewhere close to waking consciousness, even in sleep. Christ is operating, even in sleep, in dreams and in delicate movements of the heart, so that it can be said that such a contemplative never loses awareness of Love's presence, never stops "listening" to Love's voice.

~ from SINGERS OF THE NEW SONG by George A. Maloney
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Oh how our values fail us!
Beauty doesn't come from a package.
It shines as a whole.
Love doesn't come from a greeting card.
It dwells in the heart, radiating the soul.

~ Basilla E. Neilan
Basilla E. Neilan love
Love is not about acquiring, it is about letting go.
~ Unknown
Unknown love

May the light of love be shining
deep within your spirit
May the torch of mercy clear the path
and show the way
May the horn of plenty sound
so everyone can hear it
May the light of love be with you every day.

~ Anne Hills
Anne Hills love
God is breathing through us in ways we have yet to discover.
~ Unknown
Unknown love