A Shabbas Table: Is Silence... Self-less?

Something happened earlier in the week that i just cant seem to forget. Was reading this qoute by Issa of Ninive (Isaac of Nineveh), "In the beginning we have to force ourselves to be silent. But then from our very silence is born something that draws us into deeper silence." And yet when i first saw it, "mis-read" it as this:

In the beginning we have to forget ourselves to be silent. But then from our very silence is born something that draws us into deeper silence. -Issac of Ninive.

We have to forget ourselves to be silent. Just cant seem to get that out of my head. The thing is, i've made a promise regarding silence. It happened about a year ago when was praying for help for a quieter life, more silence. Was surprised at the prayer response, at hearing "why dont you meet Me halfway?" Ever since then, i've just felt this thing about silence wasnt only a draw but a promise too, that i truly need to meet Him halfway there somehow. Meaning, i guess, doing all i can towards silence on my own, my "half". And seems i find myself focusing on the externals, trying to calm the the outer noise. And yet the inner noise is the hardest of all really....really hard, that inner buzzing, inner voice. And the most important to heal too.

So...forget ourselves to be silent. Just keep coming back to that.

I do think the external silence matters too. A lot. I cringe when i hear about the popular "urban monk" trend for example, where folks claim to be able to have a "quiet and solitary" (ha!) life in a busy city, often keeping a busy job and techno-laden life as well. Not saying it doesnt work for them, but personally i just couldnt go there, really do need the outer silence.

And the outer and inner silence can be connected. One thing that really stayed with me from Elizabeth Goudge's Green Dolphin Street (such a good book!) was the idea of ones home country, which shows this intertwining so well. The idea was that when one was in their "home country" (that is, the conditions of their environment being suited to their true nature) it is then that one is most able to let go of self. My "home country" is a quiet one, and i truly need that outer quiet. And yet, the more subtle inner silence is drawing more and more deeply. Was drawn to this passage from Catherine Doherty, from Poustinia:

But how, really, can one achieve such solitude? By standing still. Stand still, and allow the deadly restlessness of our tragic age to fall away like the worn-out, dusty cloak that it is.

That restlessness was once considered the magic carpet to tomorrow, but now we see it for what it really is: a running away from oneself, a turning from the journey inward that all men must undertake to meet God dwelling within the depths of their souls.

Stand still, and look deep into the motivations of life. Are they such that true foundations of sanctity can be built on them?

For truly man has been born to become a saint—a lover of Love who died for us. There is but one tragedy: not to be a saint. If these motivations of life are not such that they can be true foundations for sanctity, then each person must start all over again and find other motivations.

It can be done. It must be done. It is never too late to begin again.

Stand still, and lifting your heart and hands to God, pray that the mighty wind of his Holy Spirit may clear all the cobwebs of fears, selfishness, greed, and narrow–heartedness away from your soul. Pray that his tongues of flame may descend to give you courage to begin again.

All this standing still can be done in the midst of the outward noise of daily living and the duties of state in life. For it will bring order into the soul, God’s order, and God’s order will bring tranquility, his own tranquility. And it will bring silence.

It will bring the silence of a lover, listening with all his being to the heartbeats of his beloved. The silence of a bride, who in utter joy listens to her heart re-echoing every word of the beloved.

The silence of a mother, so deep and inward that in it she listens with her whole being to the voice of her children playing in a nearby yard, cognizant without effort of the slightest change in each voice. Hers is a listening silence, which takes place while she competently, efficiently, and lovingly attends to her daily duties.

This silence will come and take possession of lover, mother, worker, nurse, apostle, priest, nun—if only the face of their soul, in the midst of their daily occupations, is turned to God.

At first such silences will be few and far between. But if nourished with a life of liturgical prayer, mental prayer, and the sacramental life of the Church, slowly, like the seedling of a mighty tree, silence will grow.

It will come to dwell in a soul more and more often until one day it will come to stay.

Slowly, imperceptibly, the world roundabout them will change. For the silence within them will become part of God’s loving, mighty, creative, fruitful silence. His voice will be heard through them. His face will be seen in theirs. And the light of it will become a light to their neighbor’s feet.

Wow, how amazing is that? So drawn...

Well, a wonderful Shabbas all, and Blessed Sabbath : )

(Image from here)

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