• February 28, 2017

The silence of the heart

Our good friend Catherine Doherty invites us to an ever deeper expe­ri­ence of soli­tude and silence:

If we are to wit­ness to Christ in today’s mar­ket­places where there are con­stant demands on our whole person we need silence. If we are to be always avail­able, not only phys­i­cally, but by empathy, sym­pathy, friend­ship, under­standing, and bound­less car­itas, we need silence. To be able to give joyous, unflag­ging hos­pi­tality, not only of house and food, but of mind, heart, body and soul, we need silence.

True silence is the search of man for God.

True silence is a sus­pen­sion bridge that a soul in love with God builds to cross the dark, fright­ening gul­lies of its own mind, the strange chasms of temp­ta­tion, the depth­less precipices of its own fears that impede its way to God.

True silence is the speech of lovers.

This silence, then, will break forth in a charity that over­flows in the ser­vice of the neighbor without counting the cost. It will wit­ness to Christ any­where, always. Availability will become delight­some and easy, for in each person the soul will see the face of her Love. Hospitality will be deep and real, for a silent heart is a loving heart, and a loving heart is a hos­pice to the world.

This simple, prayerful silence can and should be every­body’s silence. It belongs to every Christian who loves God.

Deserts, silence, soli­tudes are not nec­es­sarily places but states of mind and heart. They will be small soli­tudes, little deserts, tiny pools of silence, but the expe­ri­ence they will bring, if we are dis­posed to enter them, may be as exul­tant and as holy as the one God him­self entered. For it is God who makes soli­tude, deserts and silences holy.

Consider the soli­tude of walking from the subway train or bus to your home in the evening, when the streets are qui­eter and there are few passerby. Consider the soli­tude that greets you when you enter your room to change your office or working clothes to more com­fort­able, homey ones. Think of the soli­tudes afforded by such humble tasks as house­cleaning, ironing sewing. Think of the soli­tude of a car in which we return from work, riding bumper to bumper on a crowded highway. This too can be a “point of depar­ture” to a desert, silence, soli­tude.

But our hearts, minds and souls must be attuned, desirous, aware of these moments of soli­tude that God gives us. To be so attuned we must lose our super­sti­tion of time. God laughs at time, for if our souls are open to him and avail­able to him, he can invite them in, change them, lift them, trans­form them, in one instant! He can say to someone driving that car bumper to bumper, “I will lead you into soli­tude and there I shall speak to your heart.” (Hos. 2:14)

Extracts from “Poustinia: Encountering God in Silence, Solitude and Prayer” by Catherine Doherty

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