Find the Silence

 

poustinik2
Photo source unknown

 

We are besieged with endless babbling, and we become too weary to listen; we need to set aside a time to encounter the Lord. He can be encountered in many places, but one way is to find him in the poustinia (the Russian word for “desert”).

A poustinia can be a room or a small cabin—simple, even stark, so that nothing takes away from meeting God there. It has plain walls, a crucifix without a corpus, a table, a chair, a Bible, paper and pen, a loaf of bread and a thermos of coffee or tea, or simply water. The bed will be hard, for anyone who wants to follow Christ into the desert needs to do some penance; prayer and penance are two arms one simultaneously lifts up to Christ.

The poustinia is a place of solitude and peace, exterior and also interior. Everything needs to “quiet down”: the wings of the intellect are folded so that speculation and intellectual evaluation are quiescent. The head enters the heart, and both are silent.

The Bible is the only book found in the poustinia. The Scriptures become a million love letters from God, to be savored and meditated upon, absorbed so that you almost become one with those eternal, fiery, yet gentle words. Reading Scripture is a conversation with God.

When you enter the poustinia, you take humanity with you. You lift everyone before God, with their pain, sorrows, joy. The poustinik walks immersed in the silence of God. Our life of service and love to our fellow men is simply the echo of this silence, this solitude.

Then your own heart becomes a poustinia. You are there when you are travelling the subway and hanging onto a strap with your arms full. You go to a dance and you are in a poustinia. You play cards, wash dishes, you talk to people. That does not interfere with your poustinia, because the poustinia is the secret place where the Lover meets his beloved. God meets man!

~ A Reflection by Catherine de Hueck Doherty

 

 

Counsel for Silence

Go without ceremony of departure
and shade no subtlest word with your farewell.
Let the air speak the mystery of your absence,
and the discerning have their minor feast
on savory possible or probable.
Seeing the body present, they will wonder
where went the secret soul, by then secure
out past your grief beside some torrent’s pure
refreshment. Do not wait to copy down
the name, much less the address, of who might need you.
Here you are pilgrim with no ties of earth.
Walk out alone and make the never-told
your healing distance and your anchorhold.
And let the ravens feed you.

~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.

 

 

 

 

Surrounded

 

Jesus by yon sum kim
Jesus, art by Yongsung Kim

 

Those who don’t love themselves can’t receive the love of others in a healthy way either. To those who doubt their own worth, other people become rivals and competitors. Positive and open encounters become an impossibility. Many people never have an authentic experience of presence. They can’t receive another person and simply let that person be near them. There is no community, no communication. This lack of presence can lead to the most bizarre, desperate attempts to bridge the abyss they feel between themselves and others.

The deepest human longing is to be completely affirmed as we are, and to be loved unconditionally. But one of the reasons this is so difficult for the majority of us is the fact that we don’t really know who we are, and therefore we don’t know how to receive the love that is true. Only those who know their own depths can begin to understand what love is.

In your depths, you are nothing but the capacity to give and receive love. Only in your depths can you come to know the love that surrounds you on all sides. And the most direct way to your depths are silence and prayer.

~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

“Oh, if you could go to the depths of my soul even for an instant, you’d see me captivated by that Beauty, by that incomprehensible Goodness. How I’d love to bind the hearts of creatures and surrender them to divine Love!”
St. Teresa of Jesus, O.C.D.