Richard Rohr’s emailed devotion today was the first gift I got to open.
Oh the glory of being grandparents!
We’re the ones who wake up first now
and then wait in the silence…
Do what it takes.
Grab some silence today.
Your soul needs it.
When peaceful silence lay over all, and when night had run half way her swift course, down from the heavens, from the royal throne, leapt your all-powerful Word. –Book of Wisdom 18:14-15
Words are necessarily dualistic.
That is their function. They distinguish this from that, and that’s good. But silence has the wonderful ability to not need to distinguish this from that! As in the magnificent quote above from the Catholic Bible, the divine word itself can only enter the world in silence and at nighttime. Silence can hold impossibilities together in a quiet, tantric* embrace. Silence, especially loving silence, is always non-dual, and that is much of its secret power. It stays with mystery, holds tensions, absorbs contradictions, and smiles at paradoxes—leaving them unresolved, and happily so. Any good poet knows this, as do many masters of musical chords. Politicians, engineers, accountants, and most seminary trained clergy have a much harder time.
Max Picard, in his classic book The World of Silence, says, “The human spirit requires silence just as much as the body needs food and oxygen.” As a general spiritual rule, you can trust this: The ego gets what it wants with words. The soul finds what it needs in silence. The ego prefers full solar light—immediate answers, full clarity, absolute certitude, moral perfection, and undeniable conclusions. The soul, however, prefers the subtle world of shadow, the lunar world that mixes darkness and light together, or as the Book of Wisdom more poetically puts it above, “When night had run half way her swift course…”!
Robert Sardello, in his magnificent, demanding book Silence: The Mystery of Wholeness, writes: “Silence knows how to hide. It gives a little and sees what we do with it.” Only then will it or can it give more. Rushed, manipulative, or opportunistic people thus find silence impossible, even a torture. They never get to the “more.” Sardello goes on to say, “But in Silence everything displays its depth, and we find that we are a part of the depth of everything around us.” This is so good and so true!
When our interior silence can actually feel and value the silence that surrounds everything else, we have entered the house of wisdom. This is the very heart of prayer. When the two silences connect and bow to one another, we have a third dimension of knowing, which many have called spiritual intelligence or even “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2: 10-16). No wonder that silence is probably the foundational spiritual discipline in all the world’s religions, although it is only appreciated as such at the more mature and mystical levels. Maybe the absence of silence and the abundance of chatter is the primary reason that so much personal incarnation does not happen. Christmas remains a single day instead of a lifetime of ever deepening realizations.
* tantric – yes it’s one of those eastern religious words; new to me. Evidently a combination of “elaboration” and “liberation,” I’ll take elaborated liberation any day! Tantric beats tantrums…