Spring is Here!... in Northern Maine
Today's Saying: When we communicate peace silently to the other, we receive the same peace. In being a means of peace, we enjoy peace.
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What happens in long hours alone, and when I pray?
I feel within myself a deep release,
And midst life's conflicts, live a greater peace -
So clear it is, and yet, few words I find,
To share with old realities now left behind.
*John Butler. Wonders of Spiritual Unfoldment.
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Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D., in Teach Only Love, writes -
I once heard a beautiful story... . There was a minister in Switzerland, sixty-four years old and near retirement, who began to question his life and his beliefs about God. As he did so, he started having many doubts about himself and his concepts of reality. He became so depressed that he decided to put God on the shelf and get a substitute minister. Attending the local pub became his major activity.
A few days after all these changes had begun, a message came from a woman in his parish saying that her husband had just died. She lived just two doors away, and the minister immediately went to her home. He knew exactly what to say because he had been in this situation many times before. However, just as he began to open his mouth, a little voice inside said, "Say nothing; just think the word peace." About five minutes went by, and as he started to give his talk again, he received the same message. An hour went by, and finally the wife began to speak. She said that she could not understand what was happening. Her husband was dead in bed and she was experiencing more peace than she had ever felt before in her life. He told her that he also was experiencing peace as never before. He felt for the first time that he knew what the peace of God was.
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Silence can be an invitation to inner peace. Rather than filling the space with words, quietness allows room for natural calm to arise.
This silent summons is true, also, in prayer. Instead of feeling we always need to voice prayers of intercession, we can hold the person or situation in silence - this assumes one is in an inner posture of prayerfulness. Quakers often call this lifting into the Light. The One receives the prayer of the heart - prayers of the mouth are not the most needed prayer.
All Good, including inner peace, substantiates trust in the Wholly Other, Who is Wholly Here. As we do not like someone trying to hem us in, restricting our freedom of action, Spirit works best when free to do so without interruption by even our best intentions.
As the Psalmist penned -
I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.
*Psalm 4.8 (NRSV)
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The first lesson to me of the power of silence in intercessory prayer occurred when by the bedside of the mother of one of the members of a church I served as pastor. I arrived at the home. The daughter welcomed me to go into the bedroom alone, where the mother was nearing leaving the body. While there, I entered into the Prayer of the Heart, placing mind and heart in the mother's direction, who was manifesting no waking consciousness.
After this prayerful intercession, I left the room, never having spoken a word. Later, on another day, the daughter spoke to me of the change in her mother from before my arrival to after my time in the room. She had shifted into a noticeable state of calm beyond what was before. This testimony informed me a first time of how powerful the Prayer of Silence can be in communicating peace to a person not even conscious. Since then, I have often prayed for persons in this manner, and at times it is the only way I seem able to pray for someone. And, at times, I do not pray for anything specific, only lift the person into the Light.
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Another time of being reminded of the power of silent intercession... when a hospice chaplain. A man was soon to leave the body due to cancer. A few hours before, I visited him. I had visited him on several occasions prior, unable to assist him to peace. He felt he had betrayed his relationship with his god, and he found it impossible to forgive himself.
On this last visit, the family gathered around. I placed a hand on the man as he lay in extreme pain. He could not communicate verbally with me. After a time in silent intercession, I left the home. Only hours later, he left the body. When I was called in to give comfort to the family, it told me of how he changed after the prayer. He became calm, and he showed no signs of pain. He left the body in peace. Grace did for him what he was unable to do for himself; I was only a conduit. I am thankful his family could see him calm in his last few hours.
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*(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2021
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse. The book is a collection of poems based on wisdom traditions, predominantly Christian, Buddhist, and Sufi, with extensive notes on the poetry's teachings and imagery.