Monday, May 6, 2019

what's real in us is silent

Why this endless need for a man as a mirror? To see the Arthur Less reflected there?
Less, Andrew Sean Greer

Da muß er lernen von den Dingen,
anfangen wieder wie ein Kind,
weil sie, die Gott am Herzen hingen,
nicht von ihm fortgegangen sind.

So, like children, we begin again 
to learn from the things,
because they are in God's heart;
they have never left him.
—Rilke

Inside of a person is nothing but a silence, and this is, of course, terrifying—I wonder if this is the image of God in us. It is the part of ourselves that is dark and restless, constantly reaching out into a world, deeper into a heart that doesn't quite make sense. And demands a gentler sort of sense than cold, hard reason.

Anything that's real, anything that's truly worth our time, however, takes place in and with this silence.

I suppose this is known as contemplation.

Contemplation is nothing more than watching, than beholding, than, in fact, seeing.

Learning to be "alone" is first of all, impossible when you are lonely. Loneliness pollutes solitude so that it becomes a toxic isolation.

But the deeper you plunge into solitude, supported by if not a monastery, at least a hearty imitation of one, the more you discover that you are not alone.

But it is hard to get to that place of not-aloneness, when so much of solitude is allowing yourself to be alone: to not be distracted by Twitter, by newspapers, by arousal. So that you can reach the steadier and sturdier realities behind and beyond their imitation offer: conversation and relationship, books, and genuine physical desire—the sort that's a sacramental reality—the sort that takes over your whole body and mind and soul but doesn't eat away at them or confine them, but frees them. Transcendence, I guess.

This is solitude, in Merton's parlance. Also known as peace of heart according to Fr. Philippe. Whatever the name for it, it's certainly what Christ promises the world cannot give.

Because, in the deepest recesses of our heart, where there are no more words, where we are finally a quiet pool of silence, when we strip away all the words, we find that we are not actually an emptiness, and we are not left entirely speechless. This quiet we have been so afraid of, which we have been drowning with all our substitute noises, is a person—a Word, what we've longed to hear, what we've never quite been able to say—the self we were so sure was empty is actually, at its core, quite full. The silence is love.

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