*Brian Wilcox. 'A Solitary Witness'. Flickr
Note: Outside Midcoast Friends (Quaker) Meeting, Demariscotta, Maine. ~ This solitary, silent being witnesses to an unseen Beauty, and hearts prepared to listen hear. This as one does not have to say anything to witness of the Light that is everywhere and which gladdens those who see with the eyes of the heart.
A sage spent years in solitude meditating on the Divine Mystery. When he returned to the village, his eyes shone with the beauty of what he had discovered of Divine Presence. Others, also, noticed he seemed to be different, more patient, more kind, and more content.
Many seekers, from many miles around, approached the sage to hear of what he had been shown in the Silence. The sage was reluctant to answer them. He did not feel comfortable trying to put it into words. Being pressed for years, he relented and in humble words offered a feeble approximation of what he had discovered of Divine Presence.
The seekers wrote down the sage's words and took them everywhere they went. They spoke them, wrote commentary on them, and created sacred texts about them, and religious sects were formed of those who adored and repeated the words. Understanding of the words were put into confessions by some sects, into creeds by other sects, while other sects said such confessions and creeds were a betrayal of the sage's words. Many sects who did not agree with another sect's understanding of the sage's words were excluded from fellowship with that sect. Many persons, being unable to agree, were condemned to an eternal separation from Divine Presence. So, many groups arose claiming to be the only or best at following the sage's words.
At last, no one remembered the words were actually about a very personal, intimate experience that could not be put into words and was to lead beyond words.
As the sage's words spread, now written in texts, he became disheartened and thought, "I had hoped to help. But perhaps I should have not said anything at all."
* * *
“The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the Lord.
“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”
*Jeremiah 31.31-34 NLT
Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.
*II Corinthians 3.3 NLT
* * *
There are words and there is the Word. Yes, the Word can be received through words, whether books acclaimed as holy, or through words not esteemed as holy. Sometimes, one may receive words within that are the means of Grace communicating with him or her. Yet, the Word, arising from Silence, cannot become words.
The Word is always more than words. The Word is not a word at all, the Word is a Presence. Truth is not a truth, Truth is living Grace. When we encounter the Word, we encounter Something alive, living.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... So the Word became human (or, flesh) and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness (or, grace and truth). And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
*Gospel of John 1.1 KJV, 3.14 NLT
The Word keeps becoming flesh. The Word embodies in the lives of persons who are willing for that incarnation to happen. This manifestation of the Word is not limited to any one religion or spirituality and is not bound within religion or spirituality.
Possibly, the greatest revelation of Truth is that Truth lived by and seen in the lives of human beings. Such human beings include Gautama Buddha and Jesus Christ, and many other highly esteemed beings. Yet, while many may esteem certain, and few, persons as being a revelation of the Word, one need not be well-known, be seen as a holy man or holy woman, or be regarded as a revered guide or teacher. Most of those who embody the Word, being living, breathing words of that Word, are unknown but to a small number. Many of these beings do nothing to draw attention to themselves as enfleshing the Word, for they are humble beings and often have no desire to be known for the intimacy they live with Life.
Many of these humble embodiments of the Word are solitaries, or hermits, men and women. They are not necessarily alone in the wood, desert, or somewhere isolated all the time from the common concourse of other humans. This is noted in Paul A. and Karen Karper Fredette, Consider the Ravens, of an interview with a Sr. Carole Marie Kelly, in "The Catholic Herald," March 15, 1989, a hermit among the redwoods. The Fredettes observe her as an example of “concealment in full view," which characterizes most solitaries today:
“Are you really a hermit?”
“Do you have a garden?” “No.”
“Where do you get your food?” “I go to a supermarket.”
Likely there are many words of the Word who go largely unnoticed as such by others, even while living to a degree among them, than there are those noted for an ample degree of holiness or spiritual wisdom.
* * *
I recall of one of the times I went into a season of retreat in isolation when a pastor. I received a profound insight, while I walked the wood alone. I shared this with the congregants the first Sunday back with them, hoping to encourage them. Yet, I could not translate this for them, and I later felt I had been unwise to share it at all. Better if I had simply shown the fruition of that time away and that revelation given, than to have spoken of it. When we receive the Word, we need to honor that, and that means to be careful about sharing what was given. Before one shares, he or she needs to realize that talk of it cannot communicate the revelation itself, and persons may not be prepared to hear it at all. Sometimes the Word given is to be held close, at least until one receives permission to speak of it and to whom to speak of it.
* * *
We cannot live off the Word given to someone else. Like the seekers in the above story, to see what the sage knew, we must see it for ourselves. Seeing for ourselves, we cannot give what we see to anyone else. We can speak about it. The best way, however, is like the sage, for others to see how it affects our lives and evidences through our very countenance. Without saying anything, persons can sense the perfume of Grace from one who has had a direct encounter with the Word spoken in the Silence.
*Brian Wilcox. 'Glory! to Behold'. Flickr
Note: Outside Midcoast Friends (Quakers) Meeting, Demariscotta, Maine. "Glory" is the appearance of the hidden Light in our world, for us to see and be gladdened by, and realize our communion with all life.
(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2019