Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It was a blessing to host a guest from Singapore in our home last weekend. I discovered later on that this “stranger” from Singapore is a friend of some good old friends of mine. What a small world! We never know the kind of blessing that we may receive from the Lord when we submit to His Will and Word, just as the Bible said, “Do not forget to entertain strangers for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrew 13:2). The ministry of hospitality is truly a way to experience blessing from the Lord!
Returning back to our reading on silence, in the beginning, most of us need a place that eliminates practically all outer sensations. It is hard enough to forget one’s own body, and until a person learns how to cut consciousness off from the usual sensory barrage, one needs—figuratively at least—to shut the outer door. Wherever the place, it should be free of personal clutter, no letters to answer or papers to read or clothes to mend. Any position is right which relaxes the body’s control over our thoughts and feelings…Sometimes after every whisper of activity has ceased, the body is still too tense to let go. It communicates in jerks and twitches, even cramps. Of course, the tension may be caused simply by a hyperactive day, but even this is usually a sign of emotions and desires which we have not faced and which have dropped into the unconscious. From there they are sending up messages to the body to be vigilant and ready to act. As human beings, however, our first task is to get the psyche alert and vigilant so that it can take direction of our actions, and to do this, the body must be taught to be still and wait. The simplest way—the one to try first—is to let go as best one can and quietly tell one part of the body after another to relax, waiting patiently.
Besides this there are visual aids to settling down which may be helpful at one time or another. One can fix the eyes on a single object, perhaps on the sanctuary lamp in a church, on a distant vista m a picture or a rock in the bubbling water of a stream. At other times one may find that the only way to stop thinking and sensing is to close the eyes and focus on a black dot in the center of nothingness. Some people are able to concentrate on sound as a more or less meaningless object, one that brings up few associations, so that the sensory world dies away into stillness. At times music may be quieting to start with, but this is true only in settling down. In the silence itself music is a distraction, and the greater its impact the greater the distraction. I find music a spur to creativity, particularly in writing, but this is very different from silence.
Obviously silence cannot begin until the outer flow of talk has ceased, but something more than the mere sound of words must also die away. Words themselves can be used rhythmically to help produce silence…Our talking does not end with articulated words. It goes on a mile a minute inside the individual. Much of our thinking is actually an inner dialogue. Our minds are full of ideas and pictured desires and purposes that we talk and think and discourse about to ourselves. One can almost feel the tension in mouth and throat in this kind of thinking and inner talking. If one is to lay it aside, the approach must be cautious, like a policeman stepping into the intersection, first motioning traffic to slow down, and then holding up a hand that means “Stop!’ This must be done without words, without adding to the disturbance when one more item of unfinished business slips in demanding to be considered.
Just as the silence seems complete, a noise or other sensation may intrude. Or an interruption may come purely from within, perhaps an idea about to- morrow’s plans or a worry about a foolish remark or something one has forgotten to do. It does no good at all to get angry. This only adds to the activity that is trying to break in. With good-natured patience, one puts the cares of yesterday and tomorrow into the suspense file…Out of nowhere daydreams may also pop up. One may see the Little League team become national champions. We may find appetites and desires we scarcely recognize as our own. Perhaps we see ourselves handling millions of dollars, or as movie stars giving autographs, or as kings and queens. Daydreams are the partially conscious spinning out of desires and hopes in a pictorial fashion. They are an extension of our ego consciousness. Even when they reveal more than we have figure about ourselves, they are the ordinary stuff of private fantasies which anyone can discover with a little imaginative play.
This kind of silence cannot be hurried or forced; it does not come through effort. Instead, it must be allowed to happen. This is like eating an artichoke. It must be done a leaf at a time, down to the heart. If one tries to take it in a single bite, all he gets is a mouthful of thistles. One has to set aside time for silence and then turn toward it with composure, letting go of immediate things a little at a time in order to enter a world where dreams and also the energy for life are born.
This is the point at which something in the silence takes over and become active on its own. One is no longer involved just in a world of personal experiences or even private daydreams. There is contact with a flow of images of different nature, images which have a life and power of their own. Some may find themselves powerfully moved as they act out scenes of a drama within their own psyches. The images are charged with emotion, and they have the same autonomous life as dreams and the same psychic significance…It is very difficult to deal with these basic psychic realities that we meet in the form of autonomous images. Most of us are afraid of experiencing the emotions they arouse, which underlie our human behavior and with good reason. Yet these archetypal images and forces do not remain dormant simply because we keep out of touch with them. They go right on working, hidden from our conscious minds so that we often fail to understand them and either react negatively or become possessed by them, causing untold difficulties. The worst difficulties people get themselves into are generally the result of their failure to respond in the right way to these universal forces of the spiritual world which we meet as images in the silence.
I heard of many stories in terms of how people saw images while they practiced silence. It sometimes stirred up fear, guilt or shame within their psyches. They either resisted or avoided them, fearing that they were being attacked by some evil forces. But this could also be the process of soul cleansing by the work of the Holy Spirit. Some of these images may represent some hidden sins that God surfaces for us to remove. It is like the process of purifying gold. The goldsmith will remove unwanted particles that are surfaced in the melting pot under blaze. Without paying much attention to such images, one simply relinquish them to the Lord and return to silence before Him. If one is too anxious to hear from the Lord or expect something from the Lord in silence, our impatient could also become a distraction or hindrance when we encounter these images. One needs to simply surrender himself or herself to the Lord in silence, and let God have the full freedom to act, cleanse and mold us in whatever way He desires. Hope you find time to enter into silent interaction with your Loving Father today.
With Love from Him,