Another Type Of Silence

Sacred Silence

Like a treasured diamond or gold ring, silence has been discarded and lost.

Sound surrounds.

Sound invades.

Sound blinds.

Sound silences.

This sound has become noise.

Another silence embraces, envelopes, and invigorates.

Thus, silence needs to be understood in a larger way than simply a lack of audible noise.

I love to write in the early morning — when all is quiet and dark.

My focus sharpens when no sound or light interrupt or invade.

This silence awakens in me the unspeakable, the eternal, the timeless, and the profound.

The unspeakable becomes words.

The eternal emerges into the NOW.

The timeless punctuates the present.

I find myself in sacred silence — where and when I listen, see, hear, and feel the Divine and Sublime become mine.

Whenever emptiness—what seems like empty space or absence of sound—becomes its own kind of fullness with its own kind of sweet voice, we have just experienced sacred silence.

When we see silence as the ground of all words and the birth of all words, then when we speak, our words will be calmer and well-chosen.

When we recognize something as beautiful, that knowledge partly emerges from the silence around it.

This is why we are quiet in art galleries and symphony halls.

Sadly, this was previously true of libraries where the most prominent sound uttered was the “shssh” of the librarian.

If something is not surrounded by the vastness of silence and space, it is hard to appreciate it as singular and beautiful.

If it is all mixed in with everything else, then its particularity does not stand out.

As one author I read years ago said, silence is the net below the tightrope walker. [1]

Silence is that safety net that allows us to fall; it admits, as poets often do, that no words or deeds will ever be perfectly right or sufficient.

The great spaciousness and safety net beneath a tightrope walker is silence; it offers freedom from self-preoccupation and the fear of making a mistake.

[1] Max Picard, The World of Silence, trans. Stanley Godman (H. Regnery: 1964, ©1952), 22.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Silent Compassion: Finding God in Contemplation (Franciscan Media: 2014), 7-9.

Portions of this come from an email by Richard Rohr on 01/09/2019.

Much Too Much

Crowded garages with no place to park the vehicles dot many a street these days.

The growing proliferation of storage business broadcasts that we have too much.

I have a nickname, “gadget guy,” because I accumulate gadgets; too many, as I am reminded!

On a given day, while I may have 30 or so emails in the inbox, the spam folder may bulge with over three hundred!

In the Gospels Jesus teaches that ‘One’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses’.

A serious titled The Hoarders, depicts scenarios in home, in which things so clutter the space, to the extent that, no room exists for people to eat, sleep, or entertain.

Clutter

causes

congestion

to the extent

that walking around

a house

becomes

dangerous.

Let’s free up our spaces

to free up our lives

for people

rather than things.

Light To Go Home

We are driving home.

We are lost in the dark.

We are lost without signs.

We are far from home.

We are both with and without!

Imagine driving down a avenue at night,

with the street lights out,

without street signs,,

with no headlights,

without GPS, and

with pervading clouds

without stars to be seen!

Imagine our life without light, guidance, directions, and…

Where are we?

Which way do we go?

We all need guidance — to get home.

_______________________________________________________

John Henry Newman wrote a poem, The Pillar Of The Cloud.

Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,

Lead Thou me on!

The night is dark, and I am far from home —

Lead Thou me on!

Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see

The distant scene, — one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor pray’d that Thou

Should’st lead me on.

I loved to choose and see my path; but now

Lead Thou me on!

I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,

Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still

Will lead me on,

O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till

The night is gone;

And with the morn those angel faces smile

Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

—————————————————————————

Here is a musical rendition of the poem.

What Do We Remember?

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said”

“Stuff your eyes with wonder.”

With what do “stuff my eyes”  — at what do I look most, if not, all the time?

TV, my iPad, my iPhone, the faces of the people I love?

What goes into my eyes, my brain leaves an imprint on me and on the others in life.

That reminds me of the restaurant where Carol and I went for lunch after church.

A table of five persons were seated and each one, including a three year old, were fixed on their phone or their iPad.

Looking into another person’s eyes, studying their faces can sing “I love you, I care for you, and I value you” “You are precious in my eyes like a radiant diamond!”

On the other hand, looking away screams “I’m not interested in you,” “You have no value!” “You are trash!”

What we leave behind, what people remember is…

In the words of Maya Angelou:

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Fire in Fahrenheit 451

Fire

The book takes its title, Fahrenheit 451, from the temperature at which paper catches fire, a turning point between existing and ceasing to exist. 

Montag is also at a turning point. Will he change his life or will he burn under his society’s brutal constrictions?

Fire is a dual element.

A symbol of creation as well as destruction, sometimes both at once, it transforms whatever it comes in contact with.

Fire depends for its identity on who uses it and for what purpose. 

Bradbury opens the novel by reversing readers’ traditional expectations of fire.

Instead of a threat from which people must be protected, fire is now a socially sanctioned means of maintaining social order, and firemen are meant to cleanse society of the dangerous influence of books by burning them. Instead of protecting society from fire, they protect society with fire.

But fire can also symbolize knowledge and human connection, light and warmth, as well as creativity.

Late in the book, fire acts as a symbol of emotional warmth and hospitality.

https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fahrenheit-451/symbols/

The Balloon

The angry person — we have all known one or many.

Sometimes we have been that angry person.

The sage who wrote in the book of Proverbs (29:8) penned the following: “People who make fun of wisdom cause trouble in a city, but wise people calm anger down.”

While the stream or torrent of anger came flow and erupt from many sources, we have the choice of how to deal with the angry person.

We can react, becoming one more angry person, and so add fuel to the fire of angry and birth mutual rage.

Or we can respond.

I have discover that angry people simply need to be heard.

A simple example emerged while teaching in a physics class sometime ago: If you fill a balloon full of air, it will pop if you poke it.

But if you release it, it will deflate on its own.

Angry people are usually the same way.

They explode if provoked.

But when we give them enough room to talk, if we listen to what they have to say and don’t invalidate their feelings, they will release what is bottled up inside.

Once everyone has calmed down, there’s room for further conversation.

Learning to de-escalate conflict is an important skill.

By exercising good judgment concerning when to speak and when to listen, we can defuse potentially explosive situations.

We can possibly make a new friend rather than create a new foe.

Start With A Smile

Others First

This past weekend the death of one student at a local high school affected the lives of many others.

One student said in class “I wish I had picked something up.”

It is that vein and spirit that Paul wrote to his community in Philippi centuries ago “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Philippians 2:4

Becoming more unselfish begins with the decision to stop thinking about ourself so much and start looking for ways to help others.

Put ourself in situations where people have needs.

Are there rewards and risks?

Yes

The reward of a saved life supersedes all else.

The risks of rejection, being misunderstood, or making a mistake also play a part.

However, the benefit of a saved life supersedes all else.

This requires putting ourself in a position where we can see a person’s need and do something about it.

In other words, get involved!

This may start with a simple smile — check out this article —

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ericsavitz/2011/03/22/the-untapped-power-of-smiling/#2a797a8b7a67

First Responders

When we hear the phrase “first responders,” of whom do we first think?

Police, paramedics, firefighters, to be sure, come to mind.

However, our children are the first responders to events in their life!

And who are the first teachers in their life — their parents?

In the prayer over the parents in the Roman Catholic rite of infant Baptism, the celebrant prays, to the effect “May these be the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith, may they be the best of teachers, by what they say and do.”

Thus, children learn first from parents, by observation of parents’ actions and then by their words.

Happily and sadly, we parents and grandparents know the truth of that statement!

A child without values is at the mercy of everybody else’s values.

Peer pressure would be less effective if our children were taught to hold on to their own values and respect their own opinions.

Having others exercise too much influence over them is downright dangerous!

And let not just teach our kids, solicit their opinions – and respect them.

Home is where children learn to practice expressing how they feel; and if we’ve laid the right foundation, we have nothing to worry about.

We simply need to guide them in forming the right opinions; first by our actions and then by our words.

Later in life, when they chose to make good decisions, these will be based on good values, formed over the years, first starting at home!

If we don’t, they won’t learn to think for themselves or face life with confidence.

Moses told the Israelites: ‘Think constantly about these commandments…teach them to your children…talk about them when you are at home…out for a walk…at bedtime and the first thing in the morning’ (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

In The Blink Of An Eye

In The Blink Of An Eye

A quick action, an instant, a heartbeat — and things change!

The unexpected action of ours or others changes life and leaves an imprint, and possibly a scar, on us and others.

Jim Denison today wrote in on his website Denisonforum.org the following:

“Three months after 9/11, Kobe Bryant wrote a column for Newsweek reflecting on what he had learned from the tragedy.

He stated: ‘I’ve learned also that you can’t take things for granted. You know how we always say ‘See you later’? One thing I’ve realized from September 11 is that you can’t ever say that for sure. Things change in the blink of an eye. People go to work and don’t come back. One minute they’re living and the next minute they’re not. And, it doesn’t matter who you are, there is nothing you can do about it.’

He concluded: ‘We never know when our time here will be over, so we all need to make the most of every minute we have.’ “

Let’s make the most of every moment with every person we meet, especially those closest to us!

I myself have experienced this so very often in my personal and professional life.

Prudence

Prudence

At the opening of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon, Pope Francis urged the bishops to be prudent.

Some people might have welcomed that word as a reprieve from urgent action about the problems of our day, as a sign that nobody should expect to be shaken up by what the bishops would say.

Then Francis went on to describe prudence as an unsettling virtue.

He said that prudence is not indecisive or defensive, but rather a virtue of discernment.

Prudence is a daring virtue because it continually puts our viewpoints and our comfort at risk.

In Proverbs 14:8 the Sage wrote “The wise man looks ahead. The fool attempts to fool himself and won’t face facts” (TLB).

One facet of the diamond of prudence involves taking time to reflect.

The digital age has great advantages.

Through emails, texts, and tweets we can communicate quickly.

The disadvantage is that it doesn’t cultivate in us a desire to think about things deeply.

We can’t microwave personal growth; it requires a slow cooker.

By taking time to reflect: We gain confidence in decision making.

Ever made a snap decision and later wondered if you did the right thing?

Reflective thinking can help to defuse that doubt. It also gives us confidence for the next decision.

Once we’ve reflected on an issue, we don’t have to repeat every step of the thinking process when we’re faced with it again.

We’ve got mental road markers from having been there before. We clarify the big picture.

Reflective thinking encourages us to go back and spend time pondering what we have done and what we have seen. To keep from making the same mistake over and over, you must stop and examine the process that led to it.

They say we learn by experience. No, we learn from evaluated experience. And experience becomes valuable when it informs and equips us.