Together, Yet Not Too Near

There is a false form of honesty that suggests that nothing should remain hidden and that everything should be said, expressed and communicated. This honesty can be very harmful, and if it does not harm, it at least makes the relationship flat, superficial, empty and often very boring. When we try to shake off our loneliness by creating a milieu without limiting boundaries, we may become entangled in a stagnating closeness. It is our vocation

55 Maxims for Weekly Meditation, by Father Thomas Hopko

SUNDAY 1. Be always with Christ and trust God in everything 2. Pray as you can, not as you think you must 3. Have a keepable rule of prayer done by discipline 4. Say the Lord’s Prayer several times each day 5. Repeat a short prayer when your mind is not occupied 6. Make some prostrations when you pray 7. Eat good foods in moderation and fast on fasting days MONDAY 8. Practice silence, inner

Hidden Silence

There is a silence we choose. Our retreats into our cells of silence and solitude still the noise pollution in our lives so that we might eventually be still. Quieted enough to hear the whispers of God. Still enough to feel the Holy Spirit winds blowing through our lives and to observe the effects of the Spirit winds all around us. We retreat in hopes of delight, in hopes of tasting the good, the true,


Indeed silence does more than tiptoe around the house. Silence moves through all sound like water through netting. The deeper our own interior silence, the more we take on its gracious ways of opening up the tight mind that clenches its teeth around what it wants and spits out what it doesn’t want. The optimal environment for prayer is physical silence. Saint Augustine, surely one of the most eloquent people in history, thought it was


Gareth’s in ability to cope with the sound of the electric saw disrupting a contemplative prayer retreat resulted from his spasms of preference for only sounds that pleased him, such as birdsong, the rustling of leaves, or rain. Apart from his inner contortions during this one hour of outrageous disruption, there was nothing else going on just then except a saw making the sound saws make when they’re switched on and sawing through timber. The


It is one thing to see the unity of silence and sound when our teachers are birdsong and the sea’s breaking waves. But what might Wallace Stevens or Robert Penn Warren say about unpleasant noise? Can noise also be a vehicle of that “peace after perfect speech”? Does the sound we would prefer not to hear have anything to reveal? Can noise, too, be a teacher pointing to the Silence that is the ground of

The Open Porches of the Mind: On Silence and Noise (Part II)

SOME VARIETIES OF SILENCE Not all silence is the same. There is the awkward silence of the road trip with someone we do not know quite well enough to be silent next to, the refrigerating silence of hardened anger, the reverential silence of dogwoods in winter, the vast silence of a cathedral, the focused silence of absorption in our sewing or a good book, the stunned silence of seeing the status of our pension fund.

The Open Porches of the Mind: On Silence and Noise (Part I)

The result of justice will be silence and trust forever. -Isaiah 32:17  Let stillness be the criterion for assessing everything. -Evagrius  If you love truth, love silence. -Isaac the Syrian  THE BLACKBIRD SINGING With hopes of teaching them all how to draw, Kathleen Norris stands before her classroom of elementary school students. She recounts in Amazing Grace her remarkable way of going about this. Before teaching them to draw, she first needs to teach them

Keeping Silence, Not Passing Judgment (Part III)

Again and again the monks sing the praises of silence. For them silence is the way to encounter themselves, to discover the truth of their own hearts. But silence is also the way to become free from constantly judging and condemning others. We are always in danger of evaluating, estimating, and judging every person we meet. And often enough we find ourselves on the verge of condemning and passing sentence on them. Silence prevents us


THE first time you are victorious over self may be a sign to you: Now I am on the way! But do not consider yourself virtuous, only thank God, for it was He who gave you the power; and do not rejoice beyond measure, but swiftly go on. Otherwise the vanquished evil may come to life and conquer you from the rear. Remember: the Israelites received the command from God to drive out all the