Now it is the season between New Year’s resolutions and Lent, when we resolve to live holier lives by means of lessening the amounts of food, talk and frivolity in our lives (Rule of Benedict 49) and embrace fasting, silence and solitude for prayer. The community took up the ancient practice of reading (lectio) and pondering (meditatio) and prayerful reflection (oratio) on silence and its related practice of contemplatio during the weeks of Advent 2016. As a result of our study and shared discussions we chose to reinforce practices that encourage being aware of God’s presence, like keeping silence in the Chapel hallway out of respect for those praying in Chapel, and encouraging one another to offer a nod or wave in places in the house where we keep silence. These practices are intended to recognize the Christ that dwells in each one and to honor the silence out of which we speak.
This conscious choice to observe the holiness of silence is our way to live everyday sacredness. We also have the custom of Sabbath Sundays, whereby we keep silence and engage in solitary reflection on scriptures, usually on the last Sunday of the month. We give ourselves a Sabbath from talking and working in order to rest in the Lord, who rested from divine labors after six days (eons) of the creative work of making the universe and all its creatures.
Lately, it has occurred to me that New Year’s resolutions, so often broken within a few days or weeks of being made, might best be thought of in terms of on-going practices that encourage mindfulness and deepening awareness of who we are from God’s perspective. I offer a few suggestions here.
•What authors might we read to nurture our spirits and call us to rest in God, so as to rise refreshed for the work of justice, reconciliation and/or peace?
•Who might benefit from our slowing down to notice the beauties all around us in the winter wonderland of snowy days and to give God thanks for such beauty?
•Where might balancing time for leisure in creative activities that recreate our spirits with the work, in which we support our families and communities, lead us?
•How might stopping to see and hear the surprises all around us—icicles in their glistening, eagles in flight, children’s laughter and song—touch us and move us to joy and gratitude?
•What might happen if God’s mystery in our lives overtook our plans and we were led into a deeper consciousness of the One permeating all that is with Divine Love?
•How might celebrating the seasons of our lives, wherever we are in our geography and life process, be a way to thank the One who has made these seasons possible?
As we ponder one or another of these wonderings, may the God of our lives lead us to the very heart of God’s desire to dwell within and among us.