Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore
Fast from Frenzy; Feast of Silence
Tending Life’s Rhythm
Elijah went out and stood on the mountain. Then God went by. There came a mighty wind, so strong it tore the mountains and shattered the rocks. But God was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake. But God was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire. But God was not in the fire. And after the fire there came the sound of a gentle breeze. And when Elijah heard this, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
—1 Kings 19:11-13
Be still and know that I am God. —Psalm 46:10
...taken from Small Graces: the Eloquence of Silence by Kent Nerburn
When the wind stops, it is so loud that everyone pauses to listen.
We hear the rain, but not the falling snow.
The silence of a winter morning is sharper than the silence of a summer dawn.
No meditation better clears the mind than to listen to the shape of the silence that surrounds us. It opens our heart to the unseen, and reminds us that the world is larger than the events that fill our days.
Fast from Frenzy; Feast on Silence
Tending Life’s Rhythm
The opposite of silence is not necessarily noise. Rather it is the frenzy, the anxiety, the clutter of our minds and hearts that fills us up so we cannot hear the voice of our deepest selves, the voice of God. Without silence, we never learn to listen – to ourselves, to God, to one another. Without silence, we never get to know the per-son we really are, what it is that we really want to do, what it is that we are afraid of, what it is that speaks of God in us. It is the pause between the notes that really makes the music, that sets the rhythm of the dance. Later this week we enter the “Dance of Passion,” the heartache of God, the outpouring of Love. Will we hear its melody?
For Your Pondering
Pray Ps. 46:10 in a protracted, very slow way…
Be still and know that I am God…
Be still and know that I am…
Be still and know…
Be… (rest in “be-ing” in God’s arms)
Close your eyes and listen to what is playing inside your head, your heart. Write out what you hear. What is really going on inside yourself?
Where are the places of silence in your life? Are there any?
How might you enhance those spaces for yourself?
There are two kinds of silence: one is bitter, the other sweet. Bitter silence freezes people out. Sweet silence is the quiet that takes us inside ourselves so we can offer a listening heart to God, others and the Self. How do these two kinds of silence play out in your life? What might you want to change?
Forego a TV program one night; refrain from turning on the radio or CD in the car. Savor the time of si-lence. Listen to your heart. Listen to God. Listen to the cries of the world around you. Do you hear any differently?
Sister Kathy McNany is a Benedictine Sister of Baltimore and has been growing her monastic heart for 55 years. She is a spiritual director and retreat leader and has served in varied leadership roles in her community and in the Federation of St. Scholastica. Sister Kathy's reflections will offer insight on Scripture and invite you to make the words of the scripture writers your own as you ponder the thoughts and questions that she will offer you each week.