A Leap into Silence

[The] early Christian monk, [John Cassian] who brought the ideas and practices of Egyptian monasticism to the early medieval West, saw that even the way of prayer can be dangerous if it never leads you to great love and allows you to avoid necessary suffering in the name of religion.

Those who fall into the safety net of silence find that it is not at all a fall into individualism. True prayer or contemplation is instead a leap into commonality and community. You know that what you are experiencing is held by the whole and that you are not alone anymore. You are a part, and now a forever-grateful part.

Real silence moves you from knowing things to perceiving a Presence that has a reality in itself. Could that be God? There is then a mutuality between you and all things. There is an I-thou relationship. Martin Buber said an I-it relationship is when we experience everything as commodity, useful, utilitarian. But the I-thou relationship is when you can simply respect a thing as it is without adjusting it, naming it, changing it, fixing it, controlling it, or trying to explain it. Is that the mind that can know God? I really think so.

Richard Rohr, adapted from Silent Compassion: Finding God in Contemplation, pp. 15, 26, 27

Extraordinary – here is Richard Rohr, a Roman Catholic Franciscan priest, writing something that could have been written by Pierre Lacout, or David Johnson, or one of so many Quaker writers on prayer and silence.

“The mind that can know God…” I cannot think of a more accurate way of speaking of the mind within the silence of a gathered meeting, when the pattern of Friends’ hearts in the silence has become an almost infinitely sensitive net for the divine presence, a kind of aerial for the Spirit of God, and we are all one before the Light that has dawned among us.

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