We can easily fear silence, for silence can have the appearance of emptiness. Who is comfortable with a void? Who likes free-falling? Such discomfort and fear incline us then to fill the void.
In comes social media. Nothing seems to be happening, and so we immediately turn to our smart phone, and scroll and tap mindlessly at break-neck speeds—or is that text-neck speeds? “Text neck” is defined as neck pain caused by the flexed/forward head posture during texting (or reading) on a smart phone. Such posture compresses the anterior cervical spinal joints, effectively loading the anterior discs. Ouch—pain traceable for some to a fear of silence.
If only we remembered more often that God inhabits the silence. Recall Elijah meeting God at Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:11-13). God was not found in the great wind or the earthquake or the fire, but, “after the fire” in “a sound of sheer silence.” Many of the saints, the close “mystical” friends of Christ, speak of the indispensability of silence.
Mother Teresa (+1997) tells us: “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.”
The Spanish mystic, Saint John of the Cross (+1591), says that “What we need most in order to make progress is to be silent before this great God with our appetite and with our tongue, for the language he best hears is silent love.”
The young Polish nun, Saint Maria Faustyna Kowalska (+1938), exhorts us: “In order to hear the voice of God, one has to have silence in one's soul and to keep silence; not a gloomy silence but an interior silence; that is to say, recollection in God.”
In the midst of so much unrest, both inner and outer, let us not forget (also) to be silent. In fact, seize the many opportunities of apparent emptiness in your day, to frequent God and, by grace, be a mystical friend of Christ. From such sacred silence, you will “be able to touch souls.”
Yours in the silence,
The Rev. Dominique Peridans
follower of Jesus Christ
In difficult times, be they societal or more personal, it is particularly important to know who we are, who we are in Christ. Even as Christ’s disciples and friends, we so often look to the outside, to the world and persons around us, to know who are—and for validation. Yet, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We know this in faith.
We also know, alas, that faith, because so subtle and deep and because freely exercised, is easily overshadowed. The voice of God that we hear (with our hearts!) in faith can be easily drowned by other voices. And so, we ask the question afresh: who am I in Christ?
Who we most truly are in Christ cannot be seen in the mirror, cannot be measured, cannot even be easily described. All that I am has lovingly been taken hold of by Christ—my capacity to love, my hair texture, the contours of my body, my past, my relationships, my brain—and yet, the child of God in me, at his/her core, is a mystery (which is a good thing!) Our life is “hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3). We are uniquely loved and held and safe and, over time, with our cooperation, we are transformed, divinized. We are becoming like God.
Saint John tells us in his first epistle (3:2), “Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he (Jesus) appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” One day the transformation will be complete.
In the meantime, on this pilgrimage towards our heavenly home, we trust that we have been “chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before God in love.” (Ephesians 1:4) Chosen and thus sent forth, we must witness to all those around us, along the way, in these complex times, to the goodness and brilliance of God. Indeed, Saint Paul urges you and me (Ephesians 4:1-3) “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
This is my prayer with you.
“What day is it?” asked Pooh.
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favourite day,” said Pooh.
If only this were true of each day, for each of us. Alas! We lose ourselves in imaginary returns to the distancing past or in imaginary projections into the unknown future and, in the process, deprive ourselves of today, of what could be our favourite day.
Projections into the unknown future are all the more tempting nowadays, as so many important things in our lives have been postponed: weddings, soccer matches, conferences, concerts and church. More than ever, we are positioned to look forward.
Among the things postponed are our Annual Meeting (to September, 13) and our Parish Picnic (to September 20). If ever we cannot meet for the Annual Meeting, we will arrange for a virtual option. And, the Picnic, well, we will see.
We do look forward to gathering, to seeing one another, to praying and singing, to celebrating Eucharist, to letting Jesus, the Bread of Life, do His wondrous thing in our midst. Yet, as we look forward, let us, as Maya Angelou, the American poet, says,
“Be present in all things and thankful for all things.”
From the desk of the Rector