Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > EdifyingSilence


The Edifying Silence

Living from the Haven of Quietude

Jun 11, 2017

Saying For Today: The Word is Self-Communicating Presence; no one can give the Word, the Word gives Itself.


Living in LOVE beyond Beliefs

We Share One Life, We Are One Life

quiet nights ...

Theophilus of Holy Memory, Bishop of Alexandria, traveled to Scetis. The brethren, after convening, said to Abba Pambo, "Say a word or two to the Bishop, that his soul may be edified in this place." The old man said, "If my silence does not edify him, there is no hope that my words will edify him."

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As a clinical Chaplain, I was trained at a major hospital and, thankfully, under the guidance of a supervisor who understood the power and grace of Silence in serving others. One of our assignments included times in the ICU and Emergency Room doing nothing, apparently, only sitting silently. Now, why would that be so important? What I have learned is what I do not say when I am with a patient is far more important than what I do say. I have learned what happens apart from, even if through, my doing something is more important than what my doing something does. Could this be true of all our relations with others? Or is this just spiritual mumbo-jumbo? or an impractical writer out-of-touch with reality?

* * *

The person who cannot listen to the Word of Life, speechless and unseen, heard only with the Heart in reverent Quiet, will hear little of It through the most reverent of words, even words about the Word. There is a depth to the Word ~ an innate, universal Wisdom (so free from the claim of any movement, be it religious, political, spiritual, or any other) resonating from the Heart, before and beyond inside or outside, and this Grace speaks mostly within the unexplored depths of Life Itself. Life Itself I have often called Presence, as many other words are used to point to this Mystery.

* * *

We vastly overestimate the value of words; we vastly underestimate the power of Silence. The Mystery-of-Life does not speak directly to anyone through words, images, or thoughts. No. Do you think Grace has a mouth? Does Life use English? Spanish? Latin? Sanscrit? Then, why do we adore religious or spiritual words so, in comparison to Silence, and talk so much on such matters ~ as though we know so much ~ and do not balance words with the Heart listening in the Haven of Quietude?

The listening may often be, indeed usually is, only an act of being open to and with Presence. This means we are not merely in Quietude to get a message, as though we are an object waiting to hear from the Subject, the Other. We need to learn to listen with the Heart, and familiarize ourselves with the Word that often says nothing, but Its speech is the communication of Itself in ever-more subtle ways. This communication arises from Union, and it is often sensed as an ineffable, sometimes overwhelmingly mystifying, Communion. Silence habituates one to the subtle Presence, as It unfolds Itself at more and more subtle expressions, as one is made more receptive to receive. Spirit trains, so we can receive more of Grace, at an increasingly in-depth unveiling of Life.

* * *

Words give us a sense of control, even a sensation of manipulation of the Divine. Could it be we are afraid of what we might hear, or not hear, if we were silent internally, inwardly quiet for the Word to become clear to our otherwise oft-clouded minds ~ even clouded with religious opinions, spiritual convictions, and moral ideals? And are present-day "spiritual gurus" and many megga-church clergypersons any different, who make so much money producing a plethora of words with the technology of articulate rhetoric and give supposed answers to every person's heartfelt longings? Could it be this spiritual elitism is doing more harm to us than good, in communicating a distrust both of the Word and our innate capacity to be with and listen to that Word?

Possibly, the only hope to keep ourselves out of captivity to so much worded nonsense, which bombards us from all directions, even from persons who claim to have a word from "God," is intentional practice of Silence. Maybe, the reason many in organized religions are not urged to practice Silence as a means of grace is that even most of the leaders do not want to listen to the Word, but would rather listen to words, even words in a holy book, supposedly of or about the Word, and parrot those words onward to others as being speakers or teachers of It.

* * *

Many months ago, I stood listening to a speaker talking on spirituality. The speech was crafted well and enthusiastically-given. As a former teacher of homoletics ~ the art of preaching ~, I would, on presentation alone, given a near-perfect score. What I noticed was, however ~ I sensed nothing, like a hollowness. I heard words, I saw excellent performance. I was not sensing Presence, or Innate-Living Wisdom, through the words or speaker. I was not sensing Presence was the priority, but performance. As I reflect on my life, I can recall that has happened in my sharing, likewise, at times. Thankfully, I learned what no one informed me of in all my education ~ Always, always, when we share about Life, we ourselves are the principal means of the communication of Life by Life Itself, not what we say or how well we say it. The Word is Self-Communicating Presence; no one can give the Word, the Word gives Itself.

* * *

Possibly, Abba Pambo was saying something we need to resurrect in our lives, even though little encourages us to do so. That is the power of Silence to edify, both ourselves and others. You decide, if you wish to, for you. I have.


©Brian Kenneth Wilcox 2017. Brian is a Hospice Chaplain, living out his vow to serve all living beings by serving those preparing to die and their friends and family. Brian lives a vowed life, alone in a quasi-hermitic life, and integrates varied religions, but most especially the contemplative paths of Buddhism and his native faith, Christianity. Brian received a 'mystical' Christ-experience at age 9, and was introduced to a peace untouched by pain and suffering. Later, in his mid-30s, after surviving a dark night of despair, Brian was vowed to a contemplative Christian way of life on St. Matthew's Feast day, 1995, by Greenbough House of Prayer, in Georgia, USA. This began many years of ardent reading, spiritual practice, and exploration of many spiritual paths, including publication of his book An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love. The Journey has led Brian to the joy beyond the ache, a contentment in experiential union with Grace. Brian lives with the affirmation that Love, not as emotion but Divine Presence, transcends all paths of religion and is our Source and Destination. As St. Paul writes in the Christian Bible, "Now remain always, faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love." Peace to All!

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