Silence & Sacred Idleness

Work is not always required …there is such a thing as sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected.

George MacDonald
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Silence is scary … I am left with my own thoughts. The voices in my head.
I think one of the reasons technology does well is that few people want to be alone with their thoughts. In fact it’s difficult to get the peace and quiet to be in that space. Being (Over)busy, has become the accepted hallmark of value and approval.
But when something desperate or traumatic happens in life, be it a big or small desperation, the necessity of silence and the need to address the inner voices becomes inescapable. At that time I have the power to stifle the voices, to run from them, or to ask them – what is it I really need to learn from you?
Being alone with my thoughts … I confess to not minding my own company … I value times of silence. A dear sister and I expressed the mixed fear and delight of becoming these eccentric mature ladies-didn’t want to say old. I would be vividly odd, and she would be cerebrally offbeat, and strangely enough we think it would be ok. It’s the freedom to not care what others think anymore, and the urgent desire to listen to and give voice to that too long silenced inner self. One of my favourite images comes from a U2 song line …
she is running to stand still.
Be still and know that I am God ….IMG_5687
Those were the words that came to me many years ago, in the middle of a snow storm … My daughter Kristen and I were speaking at a Mother Daughter retreat … and I was contemplating the busyness of life, a possible new career direction, or a decrease of same. Options weighed on my mind as I took a short walk in a Nov snow storm and came to a clearing in the woods … in that small magical space, snow whirled all around me and here I was …. Calm and Silent, as though I was in the eye of the storm. The silence spoke powerful peace into my soul … and the ancient words came to mind …. Be STILL and KNOW that I am God. How could I know? I’d been so busy running, flapping on the spot … the way I see the ravens in a strong wind … flapping before they soar.
At that moment I knew I could not take on one more thing, as good as it was.
I often remember what the silence of the snowstorm did for my soul.
No longer do I apologize for my time to sit by the river, to absorb the beauty, to let the chaos of mind seep out of my body.
Although it’s been a tad hard to buck the norm, I have never regretted a moment of Sacred Idleness . IMG_7562_2

Silence does not exist in our lives merely for its own sake.
It is ordered by something else. …
Silence is the strength of our interior life.
Silence enters into the very core of our moral being.

Thomas Merton
from his book No Man is an Island

One thought on “Silence & Sacred Idleness

  1. hey joc. well done once again. could identify with so much of what you said. I will keep this one on hold to re read a couple times more!! very inspiring. and as I write this. the morning doves are cooing away, reminding me of home. they arrived last year for the first time since we’ve lived here. so nice to have them – I hope they stay. and with that. have yourself a great day:)

    Like

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