February 1991 (Vol. IV, No. 2)

Blessings to Friends of Silence with prayers for peace to all peoples on Earth. Ironically, to pray is to go into the desert spaces of our hearts where, in solitude and silence, we can find peace as we commune with the Beloved. Today, when the desert is not silent, Carlo Carretto in LETTERS FROM THE DESERT reminds us that:

... the affairs of the world, like those of the stars, are in God's hands -- and therefore in good hands. And yet it is so difficult to have genuine faith in God's action in the affairs of the world. And so, the poor life of our soul goes on, in the light of unreal faith and sentimentalism. Halfway between God and the world there is a confusion of aspirations, contradictions and compromises.

Yet, in the depths of our hearts we know ... it is love which must determine our actions, love which must give unity to what is divided. Love is the synthesis of contemplation and action, the meeting-point between heaven and earth, between God and us ... I have known the satisfaction of unrestrained action, and the joy of the contemplative life in the dazzling peace of the desert, and I repeat St. Augustine's words: 'Love and do as you will.' Don't worry about what you are to do. Concentrate on loving instead. And by loving you will find out what is for you. Loving, you will listen to the Voice. Loving, you will find peace. In the end, Love is the solution to every problem, the motive for all good.

May the day soon come with all peoples of the world will choose to walk in the direction of Love! Amen.

~ from LETTERS FROM THE DESERT by Carlo Carretto
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Oh, Lord of the Light,
Lord of the Shining Worlds,
the One Light.
within each One...
the One Light moving
across the face of the Earth...

Awakens souls
in the shadow of illusion,
Awaken love
and forgiveness
in every heart,
Awaken Peace on Earth...

~ Source Unknown
Unknown love

It is the task of the teacher to set the heart aflame with an unquenchable fire of longing ... and, to keep it burning until it is reduced to ashes. For only a heart which has burned itself empty is capable of love.

~ from THE CHASM OF FIRE by Irina Tweedie
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The saints speak of something they call the inextinguishable light. It is a light not of the eye but of the heart that never ceases to walk in purity and clearness. It swiftly leaves the darkness behind, and constantly strives towards the day's height. Its constant quality is to be continually purified. This is the light of eternity that can never go out, and that shines through the veil of time and matter. The saints never say that this light is given to them, but that it is given only to those who have purified their hearts in love for the Lord, on the narrow way which they have freely chosen.

~ from THE WAY OF THE ASCETICS by Tito Colliander
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I asked God for strength, that I might achieve,
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked for health, that I might do greater things,
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.

I asked for riches, that I might be happy,
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.

I asked for power, that I might have the praise of people,
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life,
I as given life, that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I asked for -- but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men and women, most richly blessed.

~ Prayer of an unknown confederate soldier
Unknown love

Life is love: love overflowing, that has no limits and that gives itself freely; love that yields mercifully to every need; love that heals the sick and rouses to life what was dead; love that protects, defends, nourishes, teaches, and forms; love that is afflicted with the afflicted and glad with those in joy; that is ready at the service of each one in order to fulfill the plan of the Beloved, in a word: the love of the divine Heart.

~ from ESSAYS ON WOMAN by Edith Stein
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We have to be on our guard against wanting to judge for ourselves what point we have reached in the way of pure love. Only God knows this. What we recognize of ourselves, also of our faults and failings, is only the illuminated part of the surface. The deep roots are also hidden from us. God, who knows these, can purify them.

~ "Letter 143" by Edith Stein
Edith Stein Letter 143 love

Love comes from within you. When you ask for love from one another, you miss the very source of love. When you give love to another, you find the source of love within you.

Inasmuch as love grows in you, so in you beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.

~ St. Augustine
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January 1991 (Vol. IV, No. 1)

ALL GOOD WISHES to friends of Silence around the world! ... with the hope of a peace-filled, joy-filled and grace-filled new year. After the busyness of the holiday season, 'til good to take time for inner reflection. Wordsworth describes it well in "The Prelude":

When from our better selves we have too long
Been parted by the hurrying world, and droop,
Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired,
How gracious, how benign, is Solitude...
There is really nothing you must be.
And there is nothing you must do.
There is really nothing you must have.
And there is nothing you must know.
There is really nothing you must become.
However. It helps to understand that the fire burns,
and when it rains, the earth gets wet...

~ from IT WAS ON FIRE WHEN I LAY DOWN ON IT by Robert Fulghum
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All of us are solitaries: we are born alone through the birth canal into the world and time, and we die alone. No one can enter our interior experience, or its continuum with the outer world we call community. Solitude is the human condition, the universal vocation to be human. It is the willingness, with Love indwelling, to go to the heart of pain to find new life and share it with the world even though you may be separated from it physically. It is from this commitment to be focused through the narrow gate of solitude that self-emptying love is outpoured, and the heart of the community, the heart of its pain, is transformed into the heart of joy.

~ from SEASONS OF DEATH AND LIFE by Maggie Ross
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Alone, in the cave that he loved so well near the summit of Mt. Subasio, Francis met God again ... Silence and solitude had become dear and sweet to Francis. As he reflected on that, he remembered a time when it was not so. In his youth, he dreaded and took refuge in the gaiety and laughter and frolicking of his friends. Always, at the edge of his consciousness, however, was the somber specter called Aloneness.

That's the way Aloneness appeared to Francis then -- a specter, a mortal enemy bearing a sickle in its hand. It was only when he finally met that specter head on, after his conversion experience, that he found the IT became HER; and then he made friends with her. She became, in fact, his best friend and constant companion.

It was a struggle of course, a struggle to be alone and to allow the pain of loneliness to be transformed into the sweetness of solitude. It didn't come easily and without countless ways in which he had to let the specter within him die. Gradually, he saw that the specter was an illusion -- a figment of his own imagining.

Now, as Francis retrieved himself from the reverie, he thought to himself guiltily, I'm supposed to be praying. Then he smiled. He knew the reverie was part of his prayer, an important part. It was through such a reverie that he had come in the first place to understand solitude for what it really was: togetherness.

~ from TOUCH OF GOD by Fr. Kieran Kay
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Most people agree that there is room for much more solitude than our present way of life affords. Whether the solitude is friendly or frightening, we are likely to feel in it God's presence, or absence. It is of great value to feel either ... Solitude reminds us that human interaction is rich and fathomless. Emerging from solitude, either shaken or serene, I nearly always cherish my first contacts with people, and see more clearly that what passes between us can bear meaning's heaviest weight.

~ from "Meditations" by Addison Hall with thanks to Liz Simons
Addison Hall Meditations solitude

The root of friendship is prayer, because the root of prayer is presence -- presence to all that is. It is not easy to be present with oneself. We spend most of our time in a flight from prayer, which is a flight from ourselves. We can take only so much of ourselves; but it is only in a radical presence to ourselves, in a coming to say "I am", that we can be present to the One who is all that we are. Our presence to Christ becomes a compelling force to be present to others. We can know that we are living in Christ, that Christ is living in us because we are invited to share in Christ's spirit. Open your hearts to one another as Christ's heart is opened to you, and God will be glorified. Each one of us has been entrusted with a gift which is intended for one another.

~ from THE FATHER IS VERY FOND OF ME by Fr. Edward J. Farrell
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I dedicate this winter day to You, as I now enter into the chapel of my heart to sit in stillness with You. May I leave outside the circle of silence all my worries and concerns for this day, as I enter into prayer. 'O Weaver of oneness and Reader of hearts, I know you need no spoken words to tell you of my affection for you. But may these words of prayer be sacraments of my love.'"

Edward Hays Prayers For A Planetary Pilgrim solitude Buy on Amazon

For those who listen in the stillness of their hearts, there comes a time to put what is heard into action and to stand up against that which is unjust, to live that which is beauty and justice...

~ Catherine Teresa Browning in "Creation" magazine
Catherine Teresa Browning solitude

Envision peace, be peace, radiate peace

~ Anonymous
Anonymous solitude

December 1990 (Vol. III, No. 11)

May the blessings of the holiday Spirit be with each of you!  Advent is a season to recall once again who we really are and to humbly accept it.  We are human beings, whose privilege it is to have God as our destiny ... human beings, to whom God has given Divine Life from the beginning ... and, in the process of becoming fulfilled, we must pass under the fiery glance of God.  Since we keep fighting off the approaching God, it is always God who must lay the groundwork for Love's approach, who must tame and train the wild human stallion for its advent destiny.  And only when we live panting in the corral, do we open up to God's life-giving breath.

Is it not true that somewhere deep down in the silence of our troubled hearts, we have always looked for God's coming? Yet, in the last analysis, we need only say our yes to who we are ... we need simply to become more responsive to the secret yearning of our heart, which we often lock up but can never squelch entirely. Inasmuch as we are open and receptive, then we are truly men and women in waiting, advent creatures who allow Love to approach them and look forward to God's coming.

~ from THE ADVENT OF GOD by Johannes Beptist Metz
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To interpenetrate an entire human life with divine life, it is not enough to kneel once a year in front of the crib and let oneself be moved by the charm of the holy night. One needs to live one's entire life in daily communication with God, to listen to the words that God has spoken and that have been transmitted to us, and to follow these words.

~ from THE MYSTERY OF CHRISTMAS by Edith Stein
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Attending in readiness waiting
My soul meets yours,
Enter, Oh Holy Spirit,
Creation's Lord.

Tending in rapt devotion
Spirit's gentle touch --
Open as an infant's gaze
More insistent than any pain.

Open in steadiness attending
Creation's one and all,
Trusting Its wondrous tenderness.
Am I at least Its child?

~ Pat Munk
Pat Munk waiting

Paraphrased from Elie Wiesel's THE OATH, an old man describes one of the characters:

He could gamble with his own suffering, but not with that of someone for whom suffering was not a game. He knew that nothing justifies the pain one person causes another. Any messiah in whose name people are tortured can only be a false messiah. It is by diminishing evil, present and real evil, experienced evil, that one builds the city of the sun. It is by helping those persons who look at you with tears in their eyes, needing help, needing you or at least your presence, that you may reach wholeness.

~ from THE OATH by Elie Wiesel
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I live my Advent in the womb of Mary.
And on one night when a great star swings free
from its high mooring and walks down the sky
to be the dot above the Christus i,
I shall be born of her by blessed grace.
I wait in Mary-darkness, faith's walled place,
with hope's expectance of nativity.

I knew for long she carried me and fed me,
guarded and loved me, though I could not see.
But only now, with inward jubilee,
I come upon earth's most amazing knowledge:

~from "Advent" in SELECTED POETRY by Jessica Powers
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Here in time we make holiday because the eternal birth which our loving God bore and bears unceasingly in eternity is now born in time, in human nature. St. Augustine says this birth is always happening. But if it happens not in me, what does it profit me? What matters is that it shall happen in me.

~ Meister Eckhart
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Silence is primarily a quality of the heart that leads to ever-growing charity. It is portable cell that we carry with us wherever we go. From it we speak to those in need and to it we return after our words have born fruit. And, it is in this portable cell that we find ourselves immersed in the divine silence. The final question in a ministry of silence is not whether we say much or little, but whether our words call forth the caring silence of God, the silence to which we are all called.

~ from THE WAY OF THE HEART by Henri Nouwen
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In the beauty of holiness have I begotten you, like dew from the womb of the morning.
~ Anonymous
Anonymous waiting

November 1990 (Vol. III, No. 10)

GREETINGS IN ABUNDANCE to all friends of Silence this harvest season! As we recollect the gifts of this year, may we also be mindful of the Source of our deepest blessings. Edith Stein, in "Thoughts", a compilation of some of her writings, reminds us of how every moment is to be a time for giving thanks:

For the blessed souls who have entered the profound union of divine life: rest and activity, contemplation and action, silence and speaking, receiving the gift of God in love and returning love by waves of thanksgiving and praise, are the same thing.

~ From THOUGHTS by Edith Stein with thanks to Walter Reinsdorf
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SILENCE and HOPE ... they belong together. Only in the silence of hope can we find our deepest communion. 'We are all one silence', says Thomas Merton, 'and a diversity of voices'. How can we keep our ears attuned to the silence of our common hope when the divergent voices of our hopes distract us? How can we tune in to their ultimate harmony, audible only to the ears of our heart? Only by being still. Only by nurturing in our heart a stillness that grows big enough to embrace even contradictory hopes, a stillness strong enough to go beyond all hopes in hope ... Hope brings us to the core of contemplative transformation: GLORY. Glory is seed and harvest to hope, its initial spark and its ultimate blaze.

~ from GRATEFULNESS, THE HEART OF PRAYER by Br. David Steindl-Rast
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In the middle of a healing conference on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, a young Native American died of acute alcoholism. Unfortunately, it is not an unusual occurrence on Indian reservations to die of alcoholism. I was working with Matt and Dennis Linn who were in training on the reservation. We were invited to the wake that was to be held later that evening. The Linns told me what to do when we got to the tribal hall.

"When we go into the tribal hall tonight, the man will be in a casket in the front of the room with all of his grieving family around him, and nobody will be talking. The Indian people will be there. Go in, don't say a word, take the hand of each of the grieving relatives, shake it once, and sit down with the rest of the people who are there."

We sat there in silence with the family. The Native Americans sat there all night long with that family, not saying a word. Your presence speaks so much louder than anything you could say. Sometimes we talk too much, rather than remembering to "be still and know that I am God".

~ Anonymous
Anonymous silence

The deep things do not come suddenly. Let us be patient -- with ourselves. We may recognize many defects in our natures ... it can all be removed. Go on working silently. Silence and patience go together. Silence has wonderful creative power. Innovators conceive an idea but they do not go out and shout it before the world; they think silently and work quietly until they realize their ideal.

~ Swami Paramananda
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Peace me to together, Oh soul,
Assemblage human and holy,
Peace together the life and the prayer,
That the Current flows strong in stillness,
And a twinkle in the silence catches the breath,
Oh wonder!

~ "The Black Butterfly" by Richard Moss
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The new challenge for all peoples is to broaden our sense of spiritual community, becoming fully ecumenical not only concerning whom we pray FOR, but also concerning whom we pray WITH. If humankind can begin to pray together we can begin to live together, finding new and creative ways to reduce the evils which plague our planet. But how can we pray together with integrity, when we differ so much in beliefs? The best way to being to pray and meditate together is in SILENCE. Words are not enough. In silence we can sense that we are not separate from anyone, and so we can dare to hope for peace. For silence to "work", participants must bring to it some degree of trust, love, and letting-go: a trust in the good-will of the others which moves them to join in such an expression of human caring; a love which brings a sense of heart-felt connection with the others as human beings; and a letting-go for a short time of our desperate clinging to the convictions which separate and divide us, letting these recede to the background of consciousness. After the silence, we return to deal with the same differences, but in a different spiritual climate.

~ Donald Evans
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What I find distinct about gratitude in the wilderness is its simplicity -- the thankfulness I feel here is for what I usually take for granted: my capacity to breathe, move and see ... For the most part, gratitude here wells up unexpectedly, in the quiet corners of the day, over events small and ordinary. Gratitude is the other side of dependence on God: to take anything for granted in the wilderness seems presumptuous, blasphemous. And so, here in these naves of vaulting stone, prayers of thanksgiving begin to edge out prayers of petition.

~ from WILDERNESS SOJOURN by David Douglas
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In moments of solitude -- awareness enables the mind and spirit to focus through awe and wisdom on a world of indisputable loveliness -- and to evince its eternity ...

~ from INFINITE DESTINY by Gwen Frostic
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October 1990 (Vol. III, No. 9)

GREETINGS and BLESSINGS! Are you prepared for Autumn?

Each new season evokes a resurgence of new energy, a new beginning. We know that from the darkness and deep silence of earth life, there springs and flourishes that which flowers in beauty. When we plant bulbs in the Fall, we have faith that from that brown globe rooted in decay will come a creation so charged with beauty as to seem a veritable breath of God. And, we can trust that each of our fears and problems, rooted in God-soil deep within, will bring forth blossoms in due season.

~ from WAY OF THE SUN by White Eagle
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Just as each new seed requires a period of gestation -- a time of deep silence and solitude -- so, too, we need such seasons. "Someone wrote me recently and asked if it wasn't frustrating to have exterior solitude interrupted. Well, you learn to live out of your interior solitude. And perhaps this is one of the keys to living in the madness, the telescoping demands and resulting exhaustion of our society: to explore our own interior solitude and learn not only to be afraid of it but to live out if its self-discipline, its limitless resources and deep silence. Solitude is like a tea ceremony, the celebration of life in all its homely movements taken out of time -- the wonder of the commonplace, the mystery of ordinary life ... Solitude is being poured-out-through. We evolve toward simplicity. We dwell in the Word."

~ from THE FIRE OF YOUR LIFE by Maggie Ross
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Love makes us one with God.
~ Anonymous
Anonymous listen

The basic lesson in observing is in learning to really "listen". Unfortunately, most of us whenever we are engaged in conversation with others really only half listen. And when we visit the great outdoors and attempt to get in touch with the Creation of Mother Earth -- do we really try to listen to the messages that are being expressed either audibly or inaudibly therein? Probably not. In all these areas of communication perhaps we need to discipline ourselves to learn the art of truly listening. We each need to rediscover that if we fill the silence, we cannot hear the voice of God. Once we have learned to quiet down and "center in", then we can begin to hear the voices of Creation and also that still, small voice within which can only come through when we are earnestly creating an attitude of "silence". Whenever we can actually stop our busy merry-go-rounds occasionally and seek quiet times and places -- we can then hear that inner voice of our Creator speaking to us with great love, comfort and guidance for our lives, as we listen with the ears of the heart and spirit! Inner harmony, peace and spiritual growth can take place when we learn to listen -- and thus receive the "gift of silence".

~ from "The Gift of Silence" by Leslie Wilson in the July 1990 issue of "The Talking Stick" with thanks to Betty Fribance
The Talking Stick listen
Only one who can bear silence will hear the voice of God.
~ Anonymous
Anonymous listen

The following prayer-poem was written by Ernest L. Brown III when he was a teenager many years ago. Our gratitude to Mrs. Fredi Brown, his mother, for sharing it with us:

Why do I pray? Why do I breathe?
Why does my heart propel the blood through my body?
Why, indeed?

I pray because I must ... because prayer is thought,
because prayer is the Nature of God.
What else can be compared to that peculiar comfort,
that indefinable calm that comes stealing over me when,
perplexed and confused, I have turned to God,
simply dropped my burdens and problems,
and flung myself into the Creator's protecting arms?

There is a spirit in us, I am told.
No one with human eyes may see this spirit;
no one may touch it with flesh-and-blood hands.
Yet when I pray I can feel it,
and then it may be said that spirit has talked with Spirit.
Not with words, for there is no need of words.
The spirit in us has touched, recognized and accepted the Lord.
All else has been lost, dropped, forgotten.
No need to remember, to fret and strive after remembering.
I have touched God -- not with my intellect,
my twisted straining thoughts,
not with human-trained logic --
but with something within me which is the spirit in us,
the Christ Indwelling.

Thus it is that I pray -- because I want to be comforted ...
because I want to be strengthened, directed, led ...
because I want to be healed, happy, solvent, loving, loved.
Because I believe that God can give me answers
when I have none of my own, I pray.

~ Ernest L. Brown III
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A shah of Persia used to sit up at night for vigils and prayers. A friend who was visiting wondered at his long meditations after the whole day's work. "It is too much," he said, "you do not need so much prayer."

"Do not say so," was the answer. "You do not know. For at night I pursue God, and during the day God follows me."

~ from TALES by Hazrat Inayat Khan
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The deep silence of creation is Spirit's voice directing the people as they walk ... Their steps are firm, for Spirit guides the moccasins to tread where it is safe.
~ Anonymous
Anonymous listen

We walked slowly and quietly through the woods

A recent meeting with nature brought a strong reminder of the beauty, unity and harmony of Creation ... a viewpoint to balance the seeming madness and greed of the present world situation:

September 1990 (Vol. III, No. 8)

DEAR FRIENDS OF SILENCE ... No need to say how vital is the call for prayer in these perilous days! A friend recently wrote that Friends of Silence reminds her that we are not as helpless or powerless as she was feeling. We can pray. We can radiate God's peace, love and harmony by the silent offering of our selves. And out of the Silence, we can trust that we shall hear what God may be calling us to do.

A recent meeting with nature brought a strong reminder of the beauty, unity and harmony of Creation ... a viewpoint to balance the seeming madness and greed of the present world situation:

We walked slowly and quietly through the woods seeking out the old fallen tree that a raccoon family calls home. After offering our appreciation for their unseen presence, we continued on to a moss covered mound between two trees and sat down to rest -- delighting in the Silence. Within a few minutes, tiny birds began to sing and fly into the branches all around us -- twenty-five to thirty or so chickadees, nuthatches and several wee birds unknown to us. They flitted from branch to branch coming closer and closer -- a symphony of birdsong! One of those timeless moments of perhaps three to five minutes where you hold your breath lest you discover 'tis but a dream. but no, this was real ... pure gift, grace. Then, just as suddenly as they had appeared, they disappeared back again silently into the woods. One's only response could be silent wonder and great gratitude.

~ Nan Merrill
Nan Merrill compassion

Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all living things which are all part of one another and involved in one another.

~ Thomas Merton
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One who knows distances out to the outermost star is astonished to discover the magnificent space in one's own heart!

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
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Jesus wept over Jerusalem ... tears continue to be an appropriate response to the suffering world today.

The gift of tears is a sign of change, of conversation of heart. The tears that are a gift are a sign of willingness to let go, of desire to let go, and the power of God acting in response to the person's prayer of longing ... The gift of tears is a sign of self-forgetfulness, a willing nakedness, a desire that comes from within to create space for God by letting go conscious pursuit of security, power, attachment ... The way of tears, while not seeking pain for its own sake, is a willingness to be continually confronted not only by painful truth about one's self, but also seeks to know this truth on a universal level of human suffering ... The way of tears quickly proceeds beyond focus on personal self-knowledge to an orientation toward the Other ... choosing to be related to the creation.

Maggie Ross The Fountain And The Furnace compassion Buy on Amazon

Peace is finding the good about people and nature and showing how good these people and things really are. It is getting along with the world, no matter how much confrontation there is. We can still find peace ... Once on a school retreat I met a lot of people I didn't know well. In the past I had judged them harshly. Through discussion sessions and prayer together, I got to know these people and found they were so good inside. This taught me how important it is to get to know people, even ones we might not like.

~ Sue P, Grade 11 in IMAGES OF PEACE
Sue P compassion

Soul is the place of the heart. Soul is interiority and stillness and spaciousness where the attention of the heart burns, where constant desire leaps forth like flames ... If we live in the depths, our soul listens with full attention to what is happening, cherishes what is meaningful as would someone about to die who must make every decision rich with the weight of right choice. The soul of a person receives everything, tries to understand or stand under what is given while at the same time realizes that no complete understanding is possible, so it remains awed and mystified. A pure and utterly poor soul receives everything without the resistance of a craving, clinging, self-important ego. Like a Mother Teresa, it opens wide its mouth and receives every blessing so that, in turn, it can transfer those blessings to all others ... The soul, which is utterly personal, trusts with all its might in the Force of the Divine Benevolence. It trusts that the Pneuma Christ is the strongest force at work in the world, mightier than all the most crude and cruel tyrants or any other violent destroyers of human dignity. That Supreme Force has won out. We must but tap into it, and surrender to it. The chief act of the soul is surrender. Surrender emanates from a soul stilled in quiet leisure and struck with holy awe.

~ from SOUL: THE MARIAN PRINCIPLE by Pat McGowan in the Nada Network
Pat McGowan Soul: The Marian Principle compassion

July-August 1990 (Vol. III, No. 7)

PEACE and BLESSINGS be with you! As we bask in the joy of summer activities and have the leisure to relax and re-create ourselves, may we also partake in the blessings of spiritual communion that come in the Silence. And, as we listen to the deep silence of our innermost spirit, the divine Spirit within, we may hear the voice of the silence, the sound of heavenly music.

And how does one go chasing after a glimpse of the uncreated Light? The Hesychasts, high on Mount Athos, bowed their heads upon their breasts, took a deep breath, and plunged in. What they plunged into was prayer. It began with a tack with which to fix the attention. It became breath itself, an inlet for the universe to invade one's body until the entire cosmos, drawn in, heaved out, was transformed into prayer. The body's posture was important. The breathing was to be carefully controlled so as to keep time with the words. Eventually the prayer, breathed in, united with their very blood and heartbeat; breathed out, it blessed the world. And some monks claimed after a while to have indeed seen the Light of the Transfiguration, uncreated energy beheld by bodily eyes.

~ from AND THE TREES CLAP THEIR HANDS by Virginia Stem Owens
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The purpose of meditation practice is not enlightenment; it is to pay attention even at unextraordinary times, to be of the present, nothing-but-in-the-present, to bear this mindfulness of now into each event of ordinary life.

~ from THE SNOW LEOPARD by Peter Matthiessen
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The accumulated wisdom of centuries teaches us that God speaks to the human heart most intimately only in silence. Silence and an inner emptiness or receptivity are the strange conditions for all our relationships. Without the ability to be silent, to wait, to be receptive, all our attempts at communion become manipulative and possessive. We become frustrated because we want instant gratification. We want all of who we are to be revealed. We want to know the end of the story. We find it difficult to wait. Waiting in the stillness, is, perhaps, the hardest of all human activities. It is not only hard; it is dangerous. The act of self-emptying leaves us open to attack from other quarters ... Yet it is only in silence that who we really are begins to appear. In the end, we need not fear, for it is our own best self struggling within, longing to be free.

~ from LIVING IN THE SPIRIT by Rachel Hosmer & Alan Jones
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Throughout the ages silence has been considered a way, a discipline, by which people could refine and deepen themselves. It is in silence that our reflective ability -- and our need to reflect -- is born. In silence we grow more aware: sounds, however distant, or the absence of them, bring out the hidden parts of our personality, triggering thoughts and various fleeting phenomena in our body and attention. In silence, we perceive the ineffable, that which cannot be verbalized, cannot be made concrete. In silence and solitude our individuality is affirmed. As we cease to speak, sitting or speaking quietly, within our own hearts and mind, we confront our past actions, aspirations, our most cherished dream figures. Not only do we meet ourselves in silence, but the silence heals us as well, for it is here, in the still, immovable changeless aspects of our very own self, that we find the safety to go through our pain, and ultimately the safety to meet our most sacred, private self, the self we are at the core of our being. Thus we rediscover and renew ourselves at the heart.

~ from ORDINARY PEOPLE AS MONKS AND MYSTICS by Marilyn Sinetar with thanks to Abby Seixas
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It is time to put up a love-swing!
Tie the body and then tie the mind so that
they swing between the arms of the
Secret One you love.
Bring the water that falls from the clouds
to your eyes.
And cover yourself over entirely with the
shadow of the night.
Bring your face up close to Love's ear,
and then talk only about what you want
deeply to happen.
Kabir says: "Listen to me, friend, bring the face,
shape, and odor of the Holy One inside you."

~ from TRY TO LIVE TO SEE THIS! by Kabir - Versions by Robert Bly
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Simple prayer is above all a response to God -- a response, not an initiative. Prayer is concerned not so much with me as with God. We are invited to surrender to God even when our instincts rebel. The essential act of prayer is to stand unprotected, vulnerable, before God. That God should take possession of us is the purpose of life. We know that we belong to God; we know, too, if we are honest, that almost despite ourselves, we keep a tight grip on our own autonomy. To truly belong to God means having nothing left for ourselves, to be bound to the will of Another. If you desire to stand surrendered before God, then you are standing there; it needs absolutely nothing else. Whether you are aware of God's presence or not does not matter. Know that God is in you and with you -- now and forever.

~ from SIMPLY PRAYER by Wendy Mary Beckett with thanks to Agnes Forsythe
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June1990 (Vol. III, No. 6)

"Is there enough Silence for the Word to be heard?"

HEARTFELT GREETINGS to you all in this month so filled with various celebrations of new life!And what hopeful signs of new birth can be seen even amidst the ignorance of our times: the walls in Europe tumbling down ... Mandala released ... Earth day's raising of consciousness ... free elections here and there.Fr. Richard Rohr in BREATHING UNDER WATER encourages us to follow the path of Jesus who is "a social critic of the illusions and games of society, while at the same time healing, loving and caring for the individual ... If I could encourage you toward one spiritual discipline it would be SILENCE and SOLITUDE."
~ from BREATHING UNDER WATER by Richard Rohr
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There is a silence of the tongue, there is a silence of the whole body, there is a silence of the soul, there is a the silence of the mind, and there is the silence of the spirit. The silence of the tongue is merely when it is not incited to angry speech or to stirring up trouble; the silence of the soul is when there are no ugly thoughts bursting forth within it; the silence of the mind is when it is not reflecting on any harmful knowledge or wisdom; the silence of the spirit is when the mind ceases even from stirrings caused by created spiritual beings and all its movements are stirred solely by Being, at the wondrous awe of the silence which surrounds Being. In this state it is truly silent, aware that the silence which is upon it is itself silent.

~ from THE SYRIAC FATHERS ON PRAYER AND THE SPIRITUAL LIFE by Sebastian Brock with gratitude to Fr. Thomas Hopko
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It is absurd to talk about interior silence when there is no exterior silence.

~ from THE SIGN OF JONAS by Thomas Merton
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In both marriage and the single life, the celibate moment may be experienced intensely when we discover in each other an ultimate inner solitude that only the transforming presence of God can penetrate. In celibate concern we do what we can to foster in one another's mutual transformation. We stand in awe before the unspeakable mystery of any person's brief life on earth. We choose to love and go on loving until we pass over in silence to the bliss of eternity.

~ from COMMITMENT: KEY TO CHRISTIAN MATURITY by Susan Muto and Adrian Van Kaam
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If we have been called to unity, the way to God, for us, passes through our neighbor. It is through this passage, which may sometimes be as dim and dark as a tunnel, that one comes to the light. This is the mysterious path God invites us to take. Each day there are opportunities to perfect this art, a tiring one at times and exhausting, but always wonderful too, vital and fertile, the art of "making ourselves one" with other people: the art of loving.

~ from UNITY AND JESUS FORSAKEN by Chiara Lubich
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... When one enters the mystery of God, the first mystery is silence. When one loves another, silence is absolutely necessary. Long before lovers can speak openly of their love, they speak by silence, a deep silence, especially when it deals with God. It is by entering the mystery of silence that slowly everyone becomes like our Beloved.

~ from DOUBTS, LONELINESS, REJECTION by Catherine de Hueck Doherty
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In the crucible of silence you will learn holiness, since silence is the door to humility, contemplation and mercy.

~ Jerusalem Rule of Life
Jerusalem Rule Of Life silence

The whispers of the Spirit are not only heard in holy places: they address obedient people in bedrooms, kitchens, dens, backyard and basements, provided they have ears to hear, eyes to see, and religious imaginations to interpret what is going on. Over the years, if a marriage is also a meeting place with God, spouses refine their radar, as it were, for what the Spirit may communicate through moments as common as tucking a child in bed or as rare as buying a new car or winning the lottery. The Holy Spirit, whose grace is everywhere, can use any and all events as channels of love in one's heart, of light to one's mind.

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Our love has been anything but perfect and anything but static. Inevitably there have been times when one of us has outrun the other and has had to wait patiently for the other to catch up. There have been times when we have misunderstood each other, demanded too much of each other, been insensitive to the other's needs. I do not believe there is any marriage where this does not happen. The growth of love is not a straight line, but a series of hills and valleys. I suspect that in every good marriage there are times when love seems to be over. Sometimes these desert lines are simply the only way to the next oasis, which is far more lush and beautiful after the desert crossing than it could possibly have been without it.

~ from TWO-PART INVENTION by Madeleine L'Engle
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May1990 (Vol. III, No. 5)

May the flowers of May brighten your hearts! GREETINGS to all Friends of Silence. Recently, in recollecting personal Emmaus experiences, we found a paragraph in Douglas Steere's book, TOGETHER IN SOLITUDE, which beautifully describes that sense of being present to another that comes out of the deep silence of our hearts:

There is One who, on that road out of Jerusalem to the little town of Emmaus, taught his companions of the road and of the table what it was to be present. "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked with us by the way?" That same quickening presence still walks by our side. That same presence kindles our meetings and reveals to us our failure to be truly present with our families, our friends, our sisters and brothers in the world. It is there in his presence when we are again given the gift of tears, that we are once more joined to all the living, the hope is restored in us, and that we are rebaptized in to the sacredness of the gift of life and of the gift of being set down here among other humans who, in the depth of their being, long to be truly present to each other. Not only is there "no time but this present", but there is no task God has called us to that is more exciting and challenging than being made inwardly ready to be present where we are.

~ from TOGETHER IN SOLITUDE by Douglas Steere
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Nonexperience is longing that no longer seeks fulfillment. Even longing itself is being continually let go, the tears mark its passing even as they magnify the Face of God ... Nonexperience is the passage to dwelling in the Silence, of Living Water where we find the waters of eternal life, possibility, salvation, which satisfy our thirst forever ... Nonexperience is the prayer of the abyss, making up by being poured-out-through what is lacking, what remains to be done, in the reconciliation and transfiguration of all things.

~ from THE FOUNTAIN AND THE FURNACE by Maggie Ross with thanks to Sr. Cora Brady
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And, from THE AWAKENING CALL by James Finley, a word for mothers (outer and inner!):

A mother is at home trying to pray while her small child is playing on the floor near her feet.The child's constant movements, its requests to be helped now with this toy, now with another, are a continual distraction to her.At the level of ego consciousness, the child is an obstacle to her attempts to recollect herself in prayer.

But then, by God's grace, she looks at the child in solitude, she sees the child through the eyes of the love that impels her to pray. Is it that her awareness of the child incarnates the divine awareness in which God eternally beholds the child in the depths of his unfathomable love? Is it that in this moment she is given to realize that this child incarnates all that Christ is? She cannot say. But for a moment, she gazes at her child, and this simple gaze of love becomes her prayer. It is in eternity that she repents of her blindness in reaching out to touch the child's face. It is with humility that she acknowledges her foolishness in seeing only an obstacle to God, in this child so fraught with the divine. For in this vowed moment the beauty of the child's presence touches her, wounds her, silences her with the beauty of God's presence. And in this bonding with her child in the love of God, prayer spontaneously stirs within her.

~ from THE AWAKENING CALL by James Finley
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There was nothing in the Virgin's soul
that belonged to the Virgin --
no word, no thought, no image, not intent.
She was a pure, transparent pool reflecting
God, only God.
She held Love's burnished day; she held Love's night
of planet-glow on shade inscrutable.
God was her sky and she who mirrored God
became Love's firmament.

When I so much as turn my thoughts toward her
my spirit is enisled in her repose.
And when I gaze into her selfless depths
an anguish in me grows
to hold such blueness and to hold such fire.
I pray to hollow out my earth and be
filled with these waters of transparency.
I think that one could die of this desire,
seeing oneself dry earth or stubborn sod.
Oh, to become a pure pool like the Virgin,
water that lost the semblances of water
and was a sky like God.

~ "The Pool of God" from SELECTED POETRY by Jessica Powers
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Where am I running to, Lord? Why am I in such a hurry when what I really want is to slow down to your timing and to enjoy the present moment you have given me? Too often, when you give me something to savor I am mentally looking ahead to what might happen next. Slow me down, Beloved: my body, my mind, my reactions, my emotions. Get me off this racetrack. Teach me how to go down deep into the moment of now to enjoy your goodness in peace, with you.

~ from IMAGES OF PEACE by Pat Corrick Hinton
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