Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Silence

A few nights ago I used as a centering prayer the first phrase in the 62nd Psalm:  "For God alone my soul waits in silence..."  As most of you know, in a centering prayer, a phrase or word is quietly repeated over and over until some part of it seems to settle into the deep places of your spirit.  The intention is to create a space where the voice of God can be heard.  From my reading about such praying, it seems that it is one of those spiritual disciplines in which the novices must heed the old practical admonition, "If you don't succeed at first, try again." 
As I prayed these words over and over the other night, I discovered that each time the words came slower and I began to hear each single word instead of the whole verse.  The words which settled into my soul were the last two,  "in silence." As I focused my prayer on these two Words from God, I wondered then and now if it was a call to seek the silence of a stilled spirit, or an invitation to step in the stream of a silence already created by the saints who had prayed before me.  Which was it?  Or, was it both?  There is a difference.  One is the silence created out of my own heart's searching and the other is a silence started by others in a mysterious way and continuing on throughout history. 

All the spiritual pondering makes me realize how it is that we are not alone.  Never.  Surely, it is true that God is always with us, but is it not also true that we sometimes stand on the shoulders of those who have prayed before us and sometimes we stand, not on their shoulders, but shoulder to shoulder with them?  The more I struggled with the Word, the more I came to the conclusion that those who stood in the silence before us somehow invite us to join them and even welcome us as we stand on the edge of the stream.

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