Holiness

Beauty in Silence

Silence by the calm water
Is there beauty in silence?
The sound of silence...
You so confound me
Sometimes peaceful at times distressing.
Quiet and and yet loud,
Eery and dark or golden and light
Dear Silence your sound it surrounds me
Cocooning me in a dampened embrace
Your sound goes through me and pierces me
Screaming through my heart
Deafening in your scream
Your sound fills me and leave me empty
Oh Silence whose sound I love and hate
Oh dear sound of silence

I’ve been discovering the beauty of silence. Silence is one of those things that can have so many qualities depending on where you are, where your heart is, where your emotions and mind are. These past few months have been filled with a lot of silence, but on the whole it has been positive. It has been heart opening, showing me parts of myself that I had forgotten about or sidelined in the loudness of life. I have always enjoyed silence except when it is awkward in company, but even then I can put up with the awkwardness. If I’m around “my people” though, silence is impossible I have so much to tell. A lot more people are uncomfortable with silence and find they have to fill it with any sound whatsoever, from music to chatter to TV.

Saints and mystics regard silence as one of those ingredients necessary in the quest of holiness. But why? How does silence help us to holiness? Without it there is no place for contemplation, no place for reflection because our hearts and minds are chaotic. Our emotions take over and our reason is overcome.

I think of the silence needed like that of being in the eye of a storm, the eye of a hurricane. Our minds are usually like the hurricane, but when we embrace silence and are still we are in the eye and can see the chaos all around us. This can be terrifying but it also allows a perspective that was not possible before. One can look the storm straight on and clearly see what is happening, see the magnitude of the storm and thus be able to plan and know how to act when back in the fray, and also have the assurance that when it all become overwhelming you can always go back into calm eye to get some rest and recharge.

Hearing God in the Silence

Can you imagine trying to hear anyone in the midst of a storm? And hearing God in the storm that is life? He speaks into the stillness of our hearts in a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-12). We need to be even more still in order to hear it.

The word for silence in German is Stille. With stillness and silence comes relaxation and peace. When you wake up well rested you would not have moved around a lot in your sleep nor made a lot of sound. And those words and prompting of the Holy Spirit that you hear in this stillness, in peace, they resonate through your whole being and cannot be ignored. They move you to action, to changing and not on a surface level. That still small voice, because you are still and silent becomes so loud like a resounding gong. It resonates with each step you take when you are back in the fray. It motivates you to move. To be better. To grow. and as you make the changes to change and grow.

The beauty in silence becomes so apparent you wonder how you missed it before, and you begin to seek more silence and contemplation and thus grow more, and before you know it, you are a few steps close to holiness. One way I have begun to embrace the silence is through contemplative prayer, and the peace from those moments and the stirrings the Lord has given me travel with me throughout the day, like ripples from His centre, like echoes of a conversation we had together…

That has been my saving grace of late, the beauty in silence. What saving grace do you find in the quiet?

Contemplative Prayer Guide

Photo by Niklas Wersinger on Unsplash

In thought…

thought photoWhat have you done in your thoughts? I’ve done a lot ‘in thought‘. Every Sunday, well most Sundays, we say the Penitential Rite and the usual prayer used is the Confiteor, i.e. the “I confess”. It starts

“I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do…”

And the thought part just got me going. I mean who has control over their thoughts? It’s hard enough to remember when I’ve done wrong on spot now I gotta remember the thoughts too? Truth be told, I probably murder and disembowel some people in my thoughts. I don’t think it will ever spill over to real life but it made me wonder. Why is it so much harder to control my thoughts? Why is it so much harder to also feel sorry for them? Why confess them?

It’s true the more I dwell on a thought the more likely it manifests. I either will then say it, do it or see it. So comes in the skill of having mastery over my wayward mind. I have an extremely loud and noisy neighbour. It’s meant that I’ve been out of the house I pay rent for, more than I am in it, squatting at friends and neighbours. Midnight brawl like sounds are not unusual and so the place feels unsafe. In my mind, I tell him off and am so not charitable.

One way I’ve been trying to be a bit more in touch and to make sure that my mind better governed is by doing the Examen. The result is that I am now more aware of my thoughts when they occur, and I am more aware of the thoughts I should not be having. As a further result, I have become a bit more contrite for them.

But till the time such thoughts will no longer come to my mind, I will be one of those fervently repeating that part of the Confiteor and doing a mind cringe as I think of the person I dressed down so uncharitably in my grey matter… noisy neighbours top of the list…. in thought…

Motherhood of a different kind

 

motherhood photo
Photo by rahego

Part of the feminine genius is that we are called to motherhood. This is motherhood in all it’s different forms, physical, spiritual, emotional ad infinitum. Sometimes that’s hard to see especially when single and waiting and praying to one day be a mother. I came across the quote below recently from The Great Divorce by CS Lewis.

 

“And who are all these young men and women on each side?”
“They are her sons and daughters.”
“She must have had a very large family, Sir.”
“Every young man or boy that met her became her son – even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door. Every girl that met her was her daughter.”
“Isn’t that a bit hard on their own parents?”
“No. There are those that steal other people’s children. But her motherhood was of a different kind. Those on whom it fell went back to their natural parents loving them more. Few men looked on her without becoming, in a certain fashion, her lovers. But it was the kind of love that made them not less true, but truer, to their own wives.”

 

After reading this I was so struck! It made me stop. I want to be like this woman. So I started reading The Great Divorce; well listening to the audiobook.

I’ve always wanted to be great, not necessarily famous, though that would be nice sometimes, but great at something nonetheless. Great enough at it so as to make a difference in the world we live in and when I pass-on for people to say, she did well and impacted our lives, she changed them for the better. That morphed over time too, I still want to be great but maybe not great here on earth in a tangible to the masses kind of way, but great by having been a mother to all who encounter me, a nurturer, an carer a bringer of life, not one who destroys it or takes it apart, or leaves other desolate and sad. I want to bring happiness, kindness, patience, to bring life and love into the world.

In my own little way, I do, when I mother the children around me. There is this Africanism that it takes a village to raise a child, and where possible I try. Today’s world makes it no longer so easy, people do not like you in their children’s space or correcting their children, but at Guides and Brownies, when teaching or tutoring, I become a mother for a little while, showing the girls, to be honest, and true, making them laugh, teaching them a skill, taking them camping, hiking and rock climbing and praying no-one has more than scratches or grazes to show for our adventures. When babysitting or visiting friends with babies, I become a mother for a little while, when distracting them for mom or dad to do something, when tickling them to make them laugh, when feeding and burping. When teaching or tutoring I become a mother for a little while as I practice patience, showing them over and over again for the umpteenth time how to do something just so. In mass, I smile and make funny faces at the toddler just about to cry so that he stops and wonders who is this crazy lady and may even forget why he was about to be upset anyway… doesn’t always work, but when it does yaaay. A motherhood of a different kind and I love every bit of it.

But with the little people, it’s easy, it just happens and comes naturally. It’s with the bigger people I struggle to practice the feminine genius of motherhood. I am not as patient with them, I am not as loving, I am not as open to bringing new life into theirs. They do not leave me to go and love their parents and loved ones more for having encountered me. Case in point I just hung up on a young woman who made me agro because she swore at me. I will see her later today and have no idea what to say to her to diffuse the situation, I want a good outcome but I find it hard to love her as she should be loved. I find it hard to practice this motherhood of a different kind. So Holy Spirit and Jesus give me the right words to say.

At work it’s also very hard to be nurturing, giving, everyone has their own agenda, I included. And suddenly an opportunity has come up for me to teach full time, little people. I know it will change me, life will be less complicated in some aspects and more difficult in others, money being one as a teachers salary will be a shadow of what I earn now. But maybe it’s time to step back and allow God to work on my heart and be more patient with older people, to have fewer stresses of a corporate nature and have simpler stresses, of forming young minds, ha as if that’s simpler but you know what I mean, I hope. Maybe it’s time for me to step up that motherhood of a different kind and know I am changing lives, something I am not always sure of at work. Maybe… if only God’s whispers were louder, you know like shouts. Should I pursue this new opportunity or not?!?!? One day I’ll be sure what He wants me to do. For now, I’ll ponder this passage and finish reading The Great Divorce, well listen to it.

waxless xoxoxo

Photo by rahego