Tonight is feeling a bit more like fall. It’s down in the high forties. It’s almost midnight as I sit here blogging about my day. Although it’s a bit cool, I’m at peace in this hermitage I enjoy in our home. There is nothing like silence and solitude and I experience much of that each day. I enjoy my time at work and socializing with many friends, but I enjoy my time alone. Though I have a 26″ LCD monitor I cannot remember the last time I used it. It’s been at least a month. What began as a Lenten activity almost ten years ago has become a way of life. A life that includes less and less of what is commonly called the news. A life that includes less and less of what might be called entertainment. When I do watch television, it is only for a brief period and usually without sound. Sporting events without commentary are almost like going to games at the stadium. I do enjoy reading Huffington a bit on the internet, but even my consumption of Huffington is way down. I find all the bickering debilitating and the less I have of it in my life, the happier I am.
This fall I’m in graduate school at St. Bonaventure University, teaching a couple of classes in our school system, working as the technology director and working at my small business. I even found time to exercise on the elliptical a couple of times this week. Soon I’ll be sleeping and then another day will present itself. Actually the new day has begun already and I’m almost ready to sleep. I love the quiet and stillness here on the edge of the woods.
I regularly read Gerry Straub’s blog and this was posted there today. It needs no further introduction except to say that I could not agree more wholeheartedly.
Silence produces an inner restfulness
that helps the soul to soar.
The greatest malady of our time
is the absence of stillness and silence.
Silence gives us space for receptivity;
it allows us to hear the speechless language of God
and to respond with our hearts.
To become more and more silent,
to enter deeply into creative silence, takes courage.
The wordless is foreign to us.
Yet God transcends language and intellect.
Only in silence can you hear the vast, boundless depths
of the Spirit speaking more and more clearly
about the unlimited love and mercy of God.
Be still. Be quiet. Be.
Today began as I made my way to Mt. Irenaeus for Mass this morning. When I arrived there were a couple dozen young men there for a St. Bonaventure University men’s overnight. Men’s overnight’s are a part of the Friars outreach to the St. Bonaventure University Campus. It was great to see so many young men gathered and sharing in the chapel. Usually women outnumber men at Mass even at the Mountain which is home to five Franciscan Friars, but today was one of those exceptions when there were only a smattering of women and nearly three dozen men and many of them were University freshmen.
A handful of young ladies from nearby Houghton College arrived soon after the liturgy had started and I could tell that they were amazed and perhaps amused by the presence of all these Bonaventure men. The theme of the overnight was “Wildmen, Warriors and Kings.” It was great to see how these young guys connected with each other and with the Friars. Following Mass and a walk down to House of Peace for brunch I found myself soaking up the presence of Brother Sun whom we haven’t seen much of lately and enjoying the warmth he provided as the mercury moved above freezing. I decided to take a leisurely drive along Route 86 through the towns of Hornell, Arkport, and Dansville on my way to Abbey of the Genesee.
I arrived at the Abbey in time for Vespers. On Sunday’s vespers always includes a time of Eucharistic Adoration and I love the combination of the two. Two Sundays in a row I’ve been able to part take in adoration. Last Sunday at prior to our Secular Franciscan meeting and today at Abbey of the Genesee. After Vespers I stayed on in the chapel to soak up the silence. On leaving the chapel I stopped in the store to pick up a couple of Monks Brownies which are one of my favorite snacks and on my way to the car I took this photo of the Abbey Chapel silhouetted against the setting sun. I thought often today of the words of Thomas Merton as he described solitude.
The more I am in it, the more I love it. One day it will possess me entirely and no man will ever see me again. ~Thomas Merton
When I read this quote on Gerry Straub’s blog attributed to Mother Teresa I was struck by its similarity to a quote that I recently posted fromThomas Merton. I know how much my own growing longing for silence means to me. Later today I hope to visit Abbey of the Genesee, another place that thrives on silence.
We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is a friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon, and the sun, how they move in silence. Is not our mission to give God to the poor in the slums? Not a dead God, but a living, loving God. The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life. We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say, but what God says to us and through us. All our words will be useless unless they come from within; words that do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.”
-Mother Teresa of Calcutta
A Gift for God:
Prayers and Meditations
[New York: Harper, Row Publishers, Inc., 1975 – pages 68-69
I regularly read Gerry Straub’s blog and usually what he posts touches me. What follows is something that I feel a bit more deeply about. Yesterday, while at Mt. Irenaeus I was touched by the poignancy of this silence.
Listening to God requires silence. Silence is more than not speaking. There is within us a wordless noise which also needs to be muted. A silent listener tunes out all exterior and interior chatter in order to be totally attentive to the silent voice of God, actively listening and responding to the very Source of his or her Being. It is only in deep silence that we can perceive the reality of God and the world around us.–Gerry Straub
Lately my thoughts have been more and more silence. I’ve had little to write about nor little to share. I’ve been writing about what I’m doing with open source software, but have had very little that I cared to share about on this writing space. The election is boring. I have little hope that the election will bring any real change no matter who is elected. It’s all about corporations these days and not about the will of the people if indeed it ever was. I’ll be traveling on Friday to St. Francis Springs Prayer Center in North Carolina for a Holy Name Province Peace and Justice Retreat.
It’s 7 degrees Fahrenheit here right now and it’s been very wintry all day. I didn’t try to make it to Mt. Irenaeus this morning. I figured the weather might make it impossible to drive up Roberts Road. I opted instead for a challenging winter drive to Piffard, New York and the Abbey of the Genesee. I stayed on the main roads as I didn’t want to slide into any ditches or get stuck in a snow bank. My journey took me through Rushford, Canadea, Houghton, Fillmore, Portageville and Nunda. From Nunda to Mt. Morris the weather was especially nasty with visibility at times less than a tenth of a mile. I finally made to Geneseo and then to the Abbey, but not without seeing a less fortunate driver who was parked in a corn field.
When I finally arrived at the Abbey I decided to sit quietly by the window overlooking the Genesee River valley. I just soaked up the silence and the delightful smell of Monks Bread coming from the bookstore/breadstore in the next room. After stopping to read a passage from Genesis I made my way to the chapel. I love this chapel. It’s a second home to me. The smell of incense, the sight of the Madonna and child, the empty stalls for the monks, the vigil light. It’s like visiting God’s home. Herman Melville once said, “silence is the only voice of God,” and I couldn’t agree more. The silence of this chapel speaks volumes to me.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent this year. Today many will return from Lenten services with ashes on their heads. I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to do for Lent this year. I’m going to spend more time in contemplative prayer. I’m being drawn more and more to silence and solitude. The more time I spend in silence the happier I am. It’s funny but silence speaks to me. I’ve also been asked to pray for a couple trying to become a mother and father. Please pray for peace also. Pray for our country that is going to spend more on war and weapons than at anytime since World War II. Pray that this year we elect a leader that will bring change.