#56 Living into a New Consciousness
Deepening the Quality of Inner Silence
and Simple Living
As we enter into a New Year, we share here some quotes that can lead us into a deeper silence and simplicity in our lives,
deeper levels of our call as Missioners.
At first, silence had seemed a deprivation, a symbol of an unwanted isolation. I had resented the solitude of my life and fought it. But gradually the enveloping quiet became a positive element, almost a presence, which settled comfortably and caressingly around me like a soft shawl. It seemed to hum, gently but melodiously, and to orchestrate the ideas that I was contending with, until they started to sing too, to vibrate and reveal an unexpected resonance. After a time I found that I could almost listen to the silence, which had a dimension all of its own...I discovered that I felt at home and alive in the silence. Silence itself had become my teacher.
Karen Armstrong in The Spiral Staircase
As I grew older the things I cared about grew fewer, but were more important.
So one day I undid the lock
and called the trash man.
He took everything.
I felt like the little donkey when
his burden is finally lifted.
Things! Burn them, burn them!
Make a beautiful fire!
More room in your heart for love,
for the trees!
For the birds who own nothing –
the reason they can fly.
From the Poem "Storage" by Mary Oliver
There are two very valuable spiritual gifts that simplicity gives to us. It seems the more we can strip our lives down to essentials, the more deliberately and awake we can live; with few wants and more time for silence and contemplation, the more we have access to our inner resources. The more lightly we walk on this earth, the more she gives to us. I call these spiritual gifts inner smiling and outgoing-ness of the heart.
Adventures in Simple Living by Rich Heffern
Deep within us, amid our differentiations as individuals and nations and species, is the desire for oneness. This holy longing is found not only in the human soul but in the soul of the universe, at the heart of everything that has being. We are an expression of the universe. Our longings are a unique manifestation of the universe's longings.
In listening to the depths of life, within our lives and within every life, we will hear the longings of the One that are deeper than the fears that divide us. There is no such thing as ultimate separation between one part of the universe and another, between the well-being of the human species and earth's other species, between the life of one nation and the rest of the world. We and all people, we and those who have gone before us, we and the universe are traveling together in one river of life. We carry each other within us. And the universe carries us within itself.
A New Harmony by John Philip Newell
Listening is one of the highest forms
Voluntary simplicity involves both the inner and outer condition. It means singleness of purpose, sincerity and honesty within, as well as avoidance of exterior clutter, of many possessions irrelevant to the purpose of life. It means an ordering and guiding of our energy and our desires, a partial restraint in some directions in order to secure greater abundance of life in other directions. It involves a deliberate organization of life for a purpose.
Richard Gregg in Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin
Let us stay in our chairs as long as we dare, breathing gently until another rhythm takes over. Let us risk inaction, become receptive, give our thoughts to the blank wall, let our layers be peeled back, accept our dreams as true even if we must wait and wait, trusting that all human life is part of an intricate unfolding of the One Reality.
All the Days of My Life by Marv and Nancy Hiles
Tears are prayers that reveal our truth before the Beloved. God honors tears, receives and tenderly holds tears as if they are precious, explosive testimony that must be preserved for some future day. Perhaps in this vigilant seeing, and tear-collecting, God weeps with the weeping world.
Kathleen M. O’Connor in
The silence of prayer
is the silence of listening.
Elizabeth O'Connor in Search for Silence
The notion of silence appears to unsettle-or puzzle-no small number of people of all walks of life...Something as "unproductive" as silence is not often taken seriously. The evaluation of silence differs from culture to culture. In the West, if you notice that someone is silent for a prolonged period of time, the tendency might be to ask, "Are you all right?" Or the silence might be interpreted as a sign of unbalanced intro-version or isolation or passive aggres-sion. In India, they would say of the silent one, Ah muni! (Ah, there is a holy soul!)
Elias Marechal in Tears of an Innocent God
To deliver oneself up, to hand oneself over, entrust oneself completely to the silence of a wide landscape of woods and hills, or sea, or desert; to sit still while the sun comes up over that land and fills its silences with light. To pray and work in the morning and to labor and rest in the afternoon, and to sit still again in meditation in the evening when night falls upon that land and when the silence fills itself with darkness and with stars. This is a true and special vocation. There are few who are willing to belong completely to such silence, to let it soak into their bones, to breathe nothing but silence, to feed on silence, and to turn the very substance of their life into a living and vigilant silence.
Thomas Merton from Thoughts in Solitude
If I were a physician and I were allowed to prescribe one remedy for all the ills of the world, I would prescribe silence. For even if the word of God were proclaimed in the modern world, how could one hear it with so much noise? Therefore, create silence!
Soren Kierkegaard in The Essential Kierkegaard
The Spirit, by its very nature, is Slow. No matter how hard you try, you cannot accelerate enlightenment. Every religion teaches the need to slow down in order to connect with the self, with others and with the Holy One. In Psalm 46, we pray: "Be still then, and know that I am Love."
Carl Honore in Praise of Slowness
The mind does nothing but talk, ask questions, search for meaning; the heart does not talk, does not ask questions, does not search for meaning. Silently, it moves toward God and surrenders. The heart is God's servant.
Nikos Kazantzakis in his book, Saint Francis
One day, as if I had lived alone for many years in the deep desert, I was taken by a stunning stillness, and without resistance I disappeared into Silence. It was my soul's homecoming, my heart's overflowing love, and my mind's eternal peace. In Silence, I felt my core identity, my essential nature, as a unity-in-love with all creation. I experienced freedom, clarity, and joy as my true Self. This Self, this Silence belongs to all of us ~ it is who we are, it is what we are. If we are to experience and embody authentic peace and love, if we are going to bring true healing to our wildly violent and endangered world, we are going to have to learn to live within this essence which joins us together as brothers and sisters.
Robert Rabbin in Sound Bites from Silence
For God to make love,
for the divine alchemy to work,
the Pitcher needs a still cup.
Sufi Mystic Hafiz in The Gift by Daniel Ladinsky
St. Augustine said, “You have made us for Yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.” Our dissatisfaction could, therefore, be the admission and awakening of our longing for the eternal. Rather than being simply the edge of some personal empti-ness, it could be the first step in the opening up of our eternal belonging. Desire cultivates dissatisfaction in the heart with what is, and kindles an impatience for that which has not yet emerged. There needs to always be a healthy tension between the life we have settled for and the desires that still call us. In this sense our desires are the messengers of our unlived life, calling us to attention and action while we still have time here to explore fields where the treasure dwells!
John O’Donohue in To Bless the Space Between
We realize there is a certain irony in collecting words that have been spoken
and written about silence and simplicity.
Although we learn by speaking,
listening, reading and writing,
yet the practice of contemplative silence seems more often to be about learning
non-verbal ways to understand, to be present, to encounter ~ a time to sweep away the words in order to allow for the possibility of communion at a deeper level.
May this be an ongoing gift in our lives.