*Brian Wilcox. 'natural perfection'. Flickr.
Many ways we communicate something beyond words and actions, though in forgetfulness we are often attached to what we can say or do as of prime importance. This is like a lover kissing a lover. The kiss, in itself, means nothing, says nothing. The kiss can be easily dissected biologically. Still, the kiss as an expression of something beyond the kiss means more than can be expressed through reason, or fully through the kiss. This is a reason we seem never to find an end to fulfillment. We can never be fully fulfilled by anything in time-and-space. Yet, we can enjoy the means that the Something beyond enters our consciousness and reminds us of Home, and Home here and more than can ever be here.
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John Woolman, a Quaker born in North America, 1720, made a difficult and dangerous trip into Native American territory. He remained at one of the camps for four days, preaching, worshiping, and praying with them. Once, he forgot about the interpreters and poured out his heart in prayer, in English. Instead of being confused, the chief Papunehang put his hand on his breast and declared, “I love to feel where the words come from.”
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The above story, told by the Quaker author Bill J. Brent, in Holy Silence, reminds us of the prior importance of the Wellspring of what we say and do, before what and how we say and do.
The Wellspring is Silence. When we speak and act from Silence, others attuned to Silence will sense the perfume of Silence. Likewise, my experience has been persons not attuned to Silence will sense the same, even though they do not know what they are being aware of.
Likewise, the story reminds us we can recognize in the Silence what we most long for. Words and actions, regardless of how loving, cannot fulfill our deepest need, even though words and actions are not opposed to this deepest need and can be a means of expressing the Wellspring.
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Whatever we call this Wellspring, and different persons and faith paths will have a different vocabulary, we each recognize the Presence intuitively. We, likewise, know there are times, brief or prolonged, when we may know the Presence more in the sense of absence. The sense-of-Presence-being-present and the sense-of-Presence-being-absent, however, are both manifestations of the Wellspring, the Presence. Over time, we learn to sense by the Grace within the Silence, and recognize the Presence within the felt-absence. In being drawn beyond words and acts, the sense and knowing of all Good anoints us with a quiet joy and silent gratitude.
*Brian Wilcox. 'illuminations'. Flickr.
(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2019