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From the depths of Silence stream compassion, forgiveness, and love.

Merry Christmas

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Such was the invitation/challenge I received upon entering the directed eight-day retreat at the Jesuits’ Eastern Point Retreat Center in Gloucester, Massachusetts. For thirty years I pored over my Jerusalem Bible, cross-referencing both testaments, dating significant verses, filling pages in my journal. For thirty years I sat by the ocean, entering its moods, smelling its innards, listening to its voice. For thirty years I sat across spirited directors, sharing dreams, laughter, some tears. For thirty years I received squeaky-clean cleansing, stashed away my retreat notes, and resolved to meditate more upon returning home.

For a few months it worked until life crammed the empty spaces of my psyche, my Jerusalem Bible unopened upon my reading table. True, I did peek at times, warmed at my scribbles and highlighting, but the God of Gloucester remained hidden, until the next retreat. Funny, he always showed up.

Not since 2014, though, have I been able to travel. My Jerusalem Bible still lies upon my reading table, unopened, my psyche unwatered, crusted with flotsam and jetsam.

 

Again, I’m hearing the invitation/challenge, Be still and know that I am God. No reason to delay, even if the God of Gloucester only hangs out by the Atlantic. I still have the August 2004 photo of myself searching—I’ve been there.

I must explore further—See, afresh, what’s out there, today.

“If you love the truth, be a lover of silence. Silence like the sun will illuminate you in God.”—a trenchant saying attributed to Isaac the Syrian, the seventh-century Bishop, theologian, and monk who the Eastern Orthodox Church regards as a saint.

Simple words, if pondered, reveal the unseen caught in the flux of time. Key to this process is passion, whose firelight, like the sun, ignites inner worlds. But who cares to go there? To discipline unruly instincts clamoring for expression? That would be like dying. Such flies in the face of our cultural mores, engulfed in denial and rationalization. The predictable is more comfortable, yet soulless.

It does not take much to see who is truly alive among us: their quickening gaze, their resonant voices, their authority, of whatever age and background.

That’s what happens when you sit in the fire.

 

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