Living with attention

Each age has its own task...Our hermitage is the act of living with attention in the midst of things: amid the rhythms of work, and love, the bath with the child, the endlessly growing paperwork, the ever-present likelihood of war, the necessity for taking action to help the world. For us, a good spiritual life is permeable and robust. It faces things squarely, knowing the smallest moments are all we have, and that even the smallest moment is full of happiness.

The act of inner attention

The act of inner attention seems to create a medieval walled garden. It is hedged about with silence and stillness, but silence and stillness are not the heart of it. At the center is a fountain and we see that everything has arranged itself around the water playing in the sunlight: here is the source of the timelessness that is everywhere apparent. The more deeply we enter, the more the fountain soars above; awe and wonder claim us.

It asks that we learn how to live, to make a particular path and fullness out of the spirit's eternity and silence.

Enjoying the moment before the task is complete

To keep our feet on the ground is to find wholeness in our lives. We bring spirit down in the world of soul to be embodied, to work, to be of benefit. At the same times we go the other way, too, bringing world up toward spirit, ennobling the kitchen and the freeway. Integrity is active, a practice concerned with motion, connection, and struggle. It does not just go by the rules. In the great silence, integrity listens for the true course. This means that integrity is slow. It allows us to feel the anxiety of events developing, finding their shape; it does not rush through the time of growth, and enjoys the moment before the task is complete.

Meditation is a fasting of the heart

MEDITATION does not itself accomplish the tasks of life but provides spaciousness, bringing the great background near, so that whatever we do, rising in the quiet, has force and beauty. In meditation, we take time, sit down, watch, while the silence accumulates -- which is how the spirit gathers to a vessel the soul has prepared ... then, spiritual silence can appear in the midst of any concentrated activity. Meditation is a fasting of the heart in which, for a time, we do not go with our wanting and fear. We cease to attach so strongly to the things of our lives. When the heart fasts and we don't pursue the world, the world begins to come to us.

As I watched the hills began to sing

I remember as a boy standing at the side of a gorge watching the swift, shallow water and a girl standing in it up to her knees. Everything was settled and at peace in the sunlight. As I watched the hills began to sing -- I could hear them as an indistinct choir. Then they began to shimmer and dance. It seemed clear that we were linked -- hills and humans -- in a deep, objective way. And this connection made life true, and my usual fears irrelevant.