“It is in the silence
That my hope is, and my aim.”
Do you ever wonder what drives your life more: the things you choose to say in real time, or the things you think or feel in silence and do not, perhaps cannot, share? Are the topics you return to in conversation, argument, or even in prayer (if I might presume that some of you, like me, are so inclined), what is really at your core? Or, are the things you think about in the quiet of the morning, that come to mind when you are working out at the Y, that you worry over when you look over your bank statement, what claims you? Sometimes the silence is not articulable, you just feel—strongly, clearly, in the quiet—but know that to apply words to those feelings would lead you away from the truth to which they seem to point.
Surely there are things that need to be said, and words that can give heart or help to bring about understanding in frayed relationships. Then again, there are those words we just choose to let fly, perhaps out of fear or frustration. We may hope to clarify a situation for someone else who seems clueless as to what actually is going on. A former colleague of mine used to say, “Let me break it down for you.” Some things are said to make us feel better about ourselves, or to explain away an injustice, redirect anger or assign blame. Sometimes we speak our truth in the spirit of Love and sometimes we attempt to share on behalf of others, without providing context or transparency. These are all Human responses to the stressors and complexity of life.
Keeping intentional silence is a powerful spiritual discipline with many life-affirming, world changing benefits. True contemplative practices allow us to deepen into our very existence, to see how our minds and ego work—often enough against our best interests, the wisdom of our hearts and the fundamental interweaving of our humanity with the great story of the unfolding universe.
But not all silence is golden. Sometimes the things we hold back while others speak on, or speak out, need to be challenged. These ideas might not be gold at all, but instead the bonds that hold us from being who we want to be in relationship, with those we love and commune with. There are also things that we brood over, and carry along in that deafening silence, simply because that is the only way we know how to hold on to them at all and be able bear their burden. These silent burdens are too costly to keep to ourselves for the flimsy reward of a discomforting comfort or to keep an unsustainable peace. People are more likely to take such a silence for a walk—and not return.
If you are interested in contemplative practices, diving into them deeply rather than just discussing them, you may wish to check out the “Contemplative Community.” We meet on the third Wednesday evening of the month in the Alliance Room from 7-8 P.M. There is always room for you and a friend, if you wish to bring one along. On February 20th we will explore the ancient monastic practice of “Lectio Divina.” Please bring a short reading from a source of inspiration, however you define that word. Don’t study it advance or try to prepare for it—the Contemplative Community is a safe environment for learning something new. You might want to just keep it simple—simplicity being at the heart of all meditative practices. Choose a book of poems, favorite nature writing or sacred scripture from your preferred tradition—or one will be provided.
Yours in Silence and Speech,