*Brian K. Wilcox. 'the warm touch of Spring'. Flickr.
When we really want to hear, and be heard by, someone we love, we do not go rushing into noisy crowds. Silence is a form of intimacy. Thatís how we experience it with our friends and lovers. As relationships grow deeper and more intimate, we spend more and more quiet time alone with our lover. We talk in low tones about the things that matter. We do not shout them to each other. We may shout about them to others, but quietness is the hallmark of love.
*J. Brent Bill. Holy Silence: A Gift of Quaker Spirituality.
Following is a musing from 2014, when I lived in a tobacco barn, near the home of my childhood and youth. The barn had been converted into a humble dwelling for my doggie friend, Bandit, and me. I had moved from Florida, having surrendered my part-time Chaplain position in corrections, no longer able to afford living expenses, and for the first time since age 19 resided back northward in Georgia. I was once again a citizen of Handtown, for many Hands lived there in past years. The barn I called a hermitage, I had wished for a hermitage for many years. Now, I was blessed with one, even if it were so run down most persons would not have lived in it. With Bandit and Grace, it became home. And, as hermitages are mainly for prayerfulness, this haven was one of prayer.
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I sit in the barn this morning. Here, in the Hermitage of Peace, door is open to the outside world of bird and birdsong, moving clouds, and floating, multicolored butterflies - all enfolded in beauty and quiet. Alone I sit, where once hung and cooked tobacco, as far back as when my dad, age 80, was a young boy - for he hung tobacco where I now sit as his son of age 53. I sit, moving fingers over prayer beads, eyes open and then closed, sometimes praying mentally and then speechless inwardly and outwardly. What is happening?
What is being accomplished? This would look to many as useless. That is a lesson of Silence. What appears useless is useful, what appears profitless is profitable. Possibly, Grace, at last, must submerge us who define our lives by socially constructed ideas of useful and profitable, into this Mystery that appears without use or profit, a waste of time and energy, for us to learn what we truly need to give our lives to and for. Prayerfulness is countercultural, exactly for it will not fit inside the bounds of what is esteemed worthy of giving ourselves to and for.
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Now, over 5 years since that musing, that apparently useless quiet, spent daily in the hermitage, I rejoice proved positive. Out of that prayerful pilgrimage, I was guided to a means to acquire clinical training in chaplaincy and, also, a job in corrections as a Chaplain, and, later, in Hospice.
The fruit of prayer is often apparently delayed, and often we enter the Quiet until the fruit appears. Yet, our first intent is not the fruit of Silence, but the being-with-in Silence.
We trust this principle: There is always more happening in the Silence than we know. This may, at times, tests our commitment to Quiet. We may feel simply being silent in the Silence is not being efficient, not being productive, not showing our worth, is not a good use of time. We learn this is not true, that fidelity to the Quiet is in itself worthy of our time and attention, and presence. We see how this affirms we are a human being among human beings, not a human doing among human doings.
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What we struggle with as to Silence, is partly this idea, which is fully fallacious, that we must be doing something or we are doing nothing. Silence introduces us to an intentional communion that, we discover, is more, not less, than being or not being productive and efficient. In Silence, we enter the life of Life, and this being-in-Quiet is a profound trust that what is most vital to us is not on the surface, cannot be measured, and is beyond even what we call mystery. In the Silence, we may not agree on what to call this Something, but that is not a problem, for the communion with Life, with ourselves each, and with each other, elevates us into a Love-knowing wherein we know by experience that this Something is and is not separate from any one of us. In fact, in some sense, the Presence appears more fully present when we are together with nothing to say, nothing to do, only to be, than when we are apart from the joined fellowship. And, we find, this Presence is the source and the content of our being present to each other; that is, to speak of our presence is to speak of the Presence.
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*Brian K. Wilcox. 'the coming of Spring !'. Flickr.
(C) Brian K Wilcox, 2019