Monday, March 7, 2011

In Silence

Come away to a lonely place all by yourselves and rest awhile.
Mark 6: 31

As the hind longs for the running waters,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
Psalm 42: 2

All the trees of the forest exult before the Lord.
Psalm 96: 12

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

Whenever you pray, go to your room,
close your door and pray to your Father in private.
Matthew 6: 6


I arrived to find the monastery blanketed in snow. It seemed as if even nature itself wanted to observe silence in that place. It is an all-penetrating silence; it has seeped into the stones of the buildings, into the very ground they stand upon. It is a silence you can almost hear.

It is the sound of prayer, the song of peace. If you are fortunate, it is a small, still voice, somewhere near your heart. If you really listen, you might find out something you need to know.

I entered the monastery not quite knowing what I was looking for. I wondered, and I prayed. Chances are, I prayed for you. When you have hours to devote to prayer, you find yourself praying for everyone and everything. I do, anyway. That is the easy part. It's a lead-in to the real questions: " Who do you say that I am?" and "Who am I?"

And you pray until your soul is rubbed raw, and you realize that, in the main, your life has been a failure and a fraud. Almost every day, you have failed to live the Gospel; almost every day, you have lived the worst sort of lies, the ones you tell to yourself.

And then you find mercy and grace. It was not you who chose me; it was I who chose you. Before you were born, I called you by name. It is almost impossible to communicate anything about grace to another person. It is not, after all, a thing in the usual sense. It is the very spirit of God acting within us.

Still, I would say that grace begins with the capacity to believe ourselves loved. Only then can we even begin to shine forth the Divine love on those around us. Be merciful, and you shall find mercy. And the mercy of God is far beyond human understanding. The Hebrew word chesed, which we translate as "mercy," encompasses much more than compassion. It is strength, fidelity, love, sanctity and more.

When a man enters a Cistercian monastery, he is asked a ritual question: What do you seek? The answer is: The mercy of God and of the Order. Perhaps that is what I was looking for too. Perhaps it was what I needed to find. God knows.

Trappist monks seem severe from a distance. They often appear to ignore both you and the other monks. They usually pass in a swish of robes, eyes down. It is in their rule. Should you catch a glimpse of their faces, though, you will find something else. Even the most elderly monk has the eyes of a child and a radiant smile. He has found what he was seeking.

What do you seek?

Respectfully Yours,



gizzylaw said...

May I use your words? I will be introducing Bruckner's Ave Maria at a concert in a California Mission. Your second paragraph fits what I want to say beautifully. A prayer, in song, sung to those who are silent.
Thank you for your words, and for the sharing of your soul.

Cricket said...

G.G. - Help yourself. Thanks for your visit and kind comment. As my grandfather would have said, keep the faith. :-)

ds said...

Ah, so that's where you were! I hope you found what you were seeking; this feels as though you did.

CiCi said...

You are probably still processing the spiritual blessings and lessons. I was wondering how you received the teachings and great understanding of your place in the universe. It has taken me many years to be in the place I am now and living the simple life without the trappings enables me to understand how blessed I am.

Unknown said...

Certainly sounds as if you've found yourself Cricket and your peace. Lovely recounting!

lime said...

i haven't had a chance to fully explore your previous post but i am very interested in learning more as i do seek the mercy of god...i am greatly in need of it and well aware of my daily failure which necessitates it.

Hilary said...

It sounds like you spent your time well. I'm still trying to figure out what I seek.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this. I believe we all need those quiet times to keep us in tune. I envy you this time away.

Suldog said...

I think it goes without saying that I love your writing. Just in case you had forgotten that, however, here I am saying it again.

I'd often thought about becoming a monk. Those thoughts took place prior to my marriage :-) Still, a retreat of some sort would probably do me a tremendous amount of good. Thanks for this glimpse at your experience. Much to consider...

Sueann said...

So beautiful sweetie!! And so true!
Thanks you so much for sharing the peace and solitude!!
Congrats on your POTW award!

Unknown said...

I simply love love this.
and I will return.
( although I feel as though I've been here? my loss for what I've no doubt missed )

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