I was gifted with a couple of books this weekend. (people know me sooo well.) On the bus today, I opened Joan Chittister’s Illuminated Life from Orbis books:
Silence frightens us because it is silence that brings us face to face with ourselves. Silence is a very perilous part of life. It tells us what we’re obsessing about. It reminds us of what we have not resolved within ourselves, from which there is no escape, which no amount of cosmetics can hide, that no amount of money or titles or power can possibly cure. Silence leaves us with only ourselves for company.
Silence is, in other words, life’s greatest teacher. It shows us what we have yet to become, and how much we lack to become it. “Wherever I am,” the poet Mark Strand writes, “I am what’s missing.”
Silence, the contemplative knows, is that place just before the voice of God. It is the void in which God and I meet in the center of my soul. It is the cave through which the soul must travel, clearing out the dissonance of life as we go, so that the God who is waiting there for us to notice can fill us.
To be a contemplative we must . . . go inside ourselves to wait for the God who is a whisperer, not a storm.
Joan Chittister’s From Where I Stand columns
photo: brother jacob
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A pious Jew is not one who worries
about his fellow man’s soul and his
own stomach; a pious Jew worries
about his own soul and his fellow
– Rabbi Salanter
Everyday Holiness: the Jewish Spiritual Path of the Mussar by Alan Morinis (2007)
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I’m in the middle of packing books, boxes and boxes of them. I’m moving from the friary in San Francisco to the one in New York next month. I don’t know what to do with all of these books – one must think of poverty and simplicity of course but reading is a form of prayer for me. These pages around me are simply overwhelming, thousands of pages of prayers. I’ve decided to only bring with me the books I haven’t read yet still I think it will a couple of boxes.
I’ve just put down Meditations on the Tarot – its not as heretical as it sounds. Published anonomysly, it’s a book of contemplation on the Christian life using the archetypes of the tarot to discuss aspects of religious vocation. I got it because of the glowing comments from Bede Griffiths, Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating and Hans Urs von Bathasar. It’s fascinating and I have notes where the the writing is really on the mark for me but damn it’s dense. At two hundred pages in, I need a break. Also I’m tired of sorting through all the goblygook and discussions of hermeticism to get to the good parts. Reading this tome is a committed relationship. With packing and trying to get things done this week, Mr. Anonomys and I need some space.
So I went to the library to clear more space and because I had a stack of overdue materials and picked up Lessons in Becoming Myself by Ellen Burstyn. She is almost overwhelmingly radiant on the cover. It looks to be a great read – a celebrity memoir of spiritual discovery. She is one of the most gifted actors – her performance in requiem for a dream was one of the most astonshings things I’ve seen on screen.
She writes at the beginning: From the point of view of a laborer int he fields of God, I thank Him/Her for not rolling over onto me this day and for allowing me the opportunity to look up as I carry the burden of my ignorance and say thank you. Thank you for the remarkable gift of life, rememberance, and prayer.
- jacob, 02 June 07
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