Souvenirs…of Silence

Any retreat into solitude and silence has, for me, two parts. There is that extended quiet that gives way to deep, restoring breaths…to uninterrupted reflection. And there is the hope that some of the quiet will accompany me home; that I will remember to find silence where I am…in the midst. Here, a few of the meditations and moments that I carry with me…

Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

These are the words of the Jesus prayer. It has for centuries been an integral part of the prayer life of Christians seeking a way in. A way into stillness. A way into the unique mystery within themselves. It has for some time been part of my own prayer life. As I journeyed toward my oasis, I listened to a remarkable teaching on this prayer, on the invocation of the Name, by the venerable Metropolitan Kallistos Ware. He spoke of its two-fold use. In the midst of our daily lives, the prayer helps us to “find Christ everywhere”, to see all of life as sacramental. And, as part of our dedicated prayer time, it is one way to “create silence”. I have listened to it several times hence. It was a most worthy beginning.

Two of the three nights I was away, I fell asleep to a lullaby of raindrops against a tin roof. One of those nights there was a spectacular storm. I snuggled beneath the covers, watching flashes of lightening and feeling the reverberations of thunder with my whole body. In the morning, I awoke inside a cloud. A cocoon of sorts. A place of resting…and becoming.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~Anais Nin

I paused in the center of this bridge for a very long time…spellbound by the movement of the water. Very nearly undisturbed in its flow, its gentle gurgle seemed to work itself inside me. More silent than an absence of sound. More still than an absence of movement. Oh, that I might sing silence into those around me as this stream sang it into me.

“Beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and devil are fighting there, and the battlefield is the heart of man.” ~Fyodor Dostoevzky

My friend, PJ, speaks of our shared ache for beauty. As I stumbled into a whole field of glorious Virginia Bluebells, ache was a most apt description. A glory almost too intense to be borne. A take your shoes off for you are breathing holiness kind of moment. A remnant, a memory of a world unseen, yet home. Wide awake. Delicious agony.

“He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die…that we may appreciate the joys of living.” ~Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

It’s ok if you don’t get this photo. I’ll warrant you its beauty is unconventional. But I found it captivating. That is to say, I found the tree with its multifarious hangers-on captivating. Perhaps one of the most valuable things God has been showing me of late is that gifts do not always come in the forms I expect…or ask for. But if I am willing to open my hands…if I will humble myself and receive as He is pleased to give, He is faithful to show me the beauty He has designed for me. For my good. For the good of those I love. I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief.

I offer my profound thanks to Mary Claire and Nordeck for graciously opening to me their own particular piece of paradise. Your kind hospitality overwhelms me.

Thank you to my family for letting me go…for verily pushing me out the door.

And thank you, especially, to my extravagantly generous Father who is always, ALWAYS, waiting for me when I slow long enough, when I open my eyes wide enough, to see Him…from your sometimes unwieldy and recalcitrant daughter.