Silent words

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We’re living through a season of family funerals, illness among family, friends and neighbours, and truly shocking events on the wider world stage. We’ve physically journeyed to celebrate lives lived far from our home, but close to our hearts. And then there’s the daily mental travel, hither and thither, at breakneck speed. Often I have heard the admonishment in E H Sears’ great Christmas hymn – ‘hush the noise ye men of strife and hear the angels sing.’

So why did I drag my feet as I prepared for today’s Contemplative gathering? Why? When I knew from experience that soon enough – towards the end of the day – I’d be wishing (again) for such a day every day! Well, I guess it’s because we humans are a bit slow on the uptake sometimes. We simply forget. We get lost in our own ‘stuff.’ Or idiocy.

Anyway. I found myself in the right chair, at the right time, in a circle with perhaps 25 others. The facilitator offered brief introductory words about words – ‘the black words’ (the literal, the descriptive, the ‘go into your room and shut the door’) and the white words (what’s beneath the merely obvious? – the metaphorical, the ‘go into your inner room and shut the door’). And thankfully these spoken words were intended to lead the gathering towards silent words: the generous, gentle breath of life where ‘angels’ (silently, even if noisily) ‘sing’!

And after a little space (was it an hour? or two? who knows?) the little circle rippled outwards and elsewhere, and I felt the sun hot on my shoulders on the riverbank, and birdsong joyous in my ears, and the river’s singing, dappled and unprotesting, as Life flowed on – and my doing battle with it – with the river, with Life – my ‘I’m not really sure I want to go today’ subsided into new recognition of the Ancient Memory – the ‘quiet waters by.’ And rippled, returning to the circle, and later rippled on outwards, and homewards. Again.