I spent a weekend a couple of years ago at a weekend retreat. There was some talking allowed, but it was generally not much more than a whisper. At the end I was surprised to hear my voice and how loud it sounded to me at that moment. The silence of the weekend showed me, as Simon suggests here, that stillness is a space where our soul opens up. That message is central to the writing of Parker Palmer and Thomas Merton. It seems at odds with the busyness and cacophony of our early 21st Century. Each morning I spend time in our small chapel meditating. It began with a struggle to achieve 30 minutes. Now, I walk out and realize I was there closer to an hour most days. Silence is an exquisite space to begin my day.
IS IT POSSIBLE to encounter “the silent music of God’s praise” in company, and / or on a regular basis? Well, the evidence seems to be that an ever increasing number of people in Bramhall are finding it to be so. Month after month people assemble for Meditation, arriving in silence, meditating in silence, and departing in silence – and the steady flow of poetry, prayer, inspired conversation and other forms of reflection that come my-very- privileged-way after each gathering are truly heartening.
This evening I recalled a wise priest I held very, very dear in the earliest years of my own priestly ministry. He’d lost his faith, once, he told me. A visit to the bishop to offer his resignation became the turning point of his life. The gently compassionate and non-judgmental stillness in the bishop, who spoke barely a word, facilitated a converting realisation:
I’ve been much…
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