Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy—because we will always want to have something else or something more.
I think joy and sweetness and affection are a spiritual path. We're here to know God, to love and serve God, and to be blown away by the beauty and miracle of nature. You just have to get rid of so much baggage to be light enough to dance, to sing, to play. You don't have time to carry grudges; you don't have time to cling to the need to be right.
by Anne Lamott, quoted in "The Washington Times," thanks to Liz Stewart
I heard a preacher say that hope is a revolutionary practice . . . hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up. . .
Coming out of the movie, I realized that I want what the crones have: time for all those long deep breaths, time to watch more closely, time to learn to enjoy what I've always been afraid of--the sad and the invisibility; the ease of understanding that life is not about doing. The crones understand this, and it gives them all kinds of time--time to get much less done, time for all the holy moments.
And we began to sing, "Why should I feel discouraged? Why do the shadows fall? "And Ranola watched Ken rather skeptically for a moment, and then her face began to melt and contort like his, and she went to his side and bent down to lift him up — lifted up this white rag doll, this scarecrow. She held him next to her, draped over and against her like a child while they sang. And it pierced me. I can't image anything but music that could have brought about this alchemy. Maybe it's because music is about as physical as it gets: your heartbeat; your essential sound, the breath. We're walking temples of noise, and when you add tender hearts to this mix, it somehow lets us meet in places we couldn't get to any other way.
Holidays are about families, and families can be a bit of a mess under stress. But the love that will gather is much more important than anything else on earth, and bigger than anything else on earth, too. Because finally, that love is sovereign.
Unfortunately, change and forgiveness do not come easily for me, but ANY willingness to let go inevitably comes from pain; and the desire to change and forgive changes you, and jiggles the spirit, gets to it somehow, to the deepest, hardest, most ruined parts. And then Spirit expands, because that is its nature, and it brings along the body, and finally, the mind.
Steeping ourselves in a place, simmering in its bounties, celebrating its wonders, and loving its peculiarities are necessary steps on a spiritual journey. We often take for granted the palces where we work and play. To get to know them again, or perhaps for the first time, involves acts of consecration and imagination. Or as Wendell Berry puts it: "My most inspiriing thought is that this place, if I am to live well in it, requires and deserves a lifetime of the most careful attention."
The silence of the marsh was so profound that it could have been the flip side of the singing in my church. Just last Sunday the people had sung the old spiritual, "Go Down, Moses," a cappella because the pianist was gone, and a bunch of people were crying, singing very loudly with their eyes closed, and the singing of that cry of a song was a wonderful form of communion. How come you can hear a chord, and then another chord, and then your heart breaks open?
Every dollar you donate helps us to mail out the monthly Friends of Silence newsletter, add back issues of the newsletter to the web site, develop online courses on silence, and provide contemplative retreats at Still Point.
Friends of Silence is a 501(c)3 non-profit public benefit organization and all donations are tax deductible.
We welcome you to become a partner in our work. Thank you so much for your generosity!