An Act of Surrender

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Mike from The Mercy Blog is pondering lyrical as always, this time about silence. Who knew it could contain the whole universe? I love what he has to say, so I reproduce it in its entirety here (the actual post is here):

Maggie Ross has just posted number IV in her Ethics Issuing from Silence series. She begins:
When silence is the wellspring, day-to-day living evolves toward simplicity and unobtrusiveness. To inhabit silence naturally leads to embracing silence in the exterior as well as interior worlds. Changes to the way you live may take place subtly and gradually, almost without your realizing it.
and ends:
In short, there is good news and bad news. The "bad" news is that you will never again feel at home in the culture around you. The good news is that you now lead a life whose riches were once unimaginable. There is no language to describe it. Far from being a selfish exercise, a life lived from the wellspring of silence influences other lives - but without our being aware of this fact. Silence itself has resonances, but the way you have come to be in the world quietly opens the possibility of transfiguration to everyone around you.
I would urge you to click over and read the whole post. But I mention it here not just as a recommendation - heartfelt though that is - but because I am so convinced that this life of prayer comes to permeate all that we are, and that accepting that God has called us in this way is to accept the most profound rearrangement of all we have come to accept as "normal life".

Richard Rohr writes:
The most simple and spiritual discipline is some degree of solitude and silence. But it's also the hardest, because none of us want to be with someone we don't love.

We won't have the courage to go into that terrifying place of the soul without a great love, without the light and love of the Lord. Such silence is the most spacious and empowering technique in the world, yet it's not a technique at all. It's precisely the refusal of all technique...

We must learn to trust God. Developing that trust is worth some particular attention, worth making time to stop and pray, and be quiet in God.

That may be impractical, but the way of faith is not the way of efficiency. God has not called us to an efficient way of life. We are called to a way of faith. Much is a matter of listening and waiting.

This act of surrender, this taking of our hands off the controls of our life, is anything but a trivial thing. It is perhaps the most radical act, short of dying, that we're likely to find ourselves involved in. As Rohr suggests, it requires courage - but not the raw, exhilarating courage that comes in some emergency, and permits acts of bravery we'd never consider if we had time to think. It's a long-term kind of courage, much more like the courage that keeps a mother at the bedside of her sick child through the cold hours before dawn. But this courage is ultimately a decision for joy, paradoxically enough. The love of God is the most joyful thing there is, and all we stand to lose are the things that stand between that love and our own heart.
For silence is not God, nor speaking; fasting is not God, nor eating; solitude is not God, nor company; nor any other pair of opposites. He is hidden between them, and cannot be found by anything your soul does, but only by the love of your heart. He cannot be known by reason, he cannot be thought, caught, or sought by understanding. But he can be loved and chosen by the true, loving will of your heart.


  1. wow, sue. I am speechless. Wish I were more silent, though.
    The words which hit me initially were: Such silence is the most spacious and empowering technique in the world, yet it's not a technique at all. It's precisely the refusal of all technique ...
    We tend to thrash about in one or another technique during our spiritual journey, but, ultimately it is about a surrender to no technique. Thank you for all you have given me to ponder today. And thanks to Mike for kicking it off.

  2. Profound in all it's simplicity. Any talk of the absence of technique will get me jazzed.

  3. Thank you, Sue! I don't know what to say - thank you again!

    Love & blessings from the other end of the world...


  4. Hi Barb - Yes, the either/or thing, swinging from one to the other. When the answer lies in the middle, or in none, or in all, or in both at the same time :)

    Kent - Profound simplicity :) Another paradox. Ahh, there's no end to them! Hooray! :)

    Mike - No worries! Love and blessings to you too


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