Bob Short – Executive Coordinator
At their most recent gathering of the first virtual chapter*, members spontaneously surfaced the thought that maybe there are just too many words attached to almost everything these days… dishonest political words, manipulative marketing words, sanctimonious religious words, ego words that compare, compete, connive, contrast, contrive and, perhaps the biggest offenders, all those unsettling words and scenarios that incessantly play out in our heads. Understandably, some of you reading this might be feeling that this article is itself quickly becoming an offender in this verbosity plague.
Words are important. Poetic, truthful words, and others like, thank you, forgive me, I love you, whoops, and, for carnivores, medium rare, surely have a place. Still, we haven’t done very well at sticking to the good words. How can we best get hold of all this?
Over-explanation separates us
from astonishment. – Eugene Ionesco
As the conversation evolved, we talked (admittedly, in words) about those wordless spaces – walking in the forest, standing by the ocean, listening to music, sitting in a chapel, holding a newborn – wherein peace washes over us and we come to know in a different, peaceful and compelling way. You too might be tempted to add to the list. Hopefully, neither Chardonnay nor Merlot would get many honest votes in this regard.
Mostly, our time together focused on how each of us has come to a place of deeper knowing. Jim Coady insightfully added that almost always, “We learn more from experiences than from documents.” Although not physically present in this virtual community, Richard Rohr helped us out when he wrote that, “Knowing is the empty space around the words, allowing God to fill in all the gaps in an ‘unspeakable’ way.” That could serve as a definition for faith.
From a distance, all this might seem a bit fuzzy and/or dense. Even that characterization will be euphemistic for some. Still, as 2019 begins to unfold and all of us in Maryknoll strive to live with integrity, love, and groundedness in these very uncertain, noisy times, we can gain strength and courage by visiting these wordless spaces. I think that those in the Contemplative Virtual Chapter would concur.
*Currently, three chapters meet virtually: one of Affiliates who've moved, the Contemplative Virtual Chapter, and an international chapter.