IS IT POSSIBLE to encounter “the silent music of God’s praise” in company, and / or on a regular basis? Well, the evidence seems to be that an ever increasing number of people in Bramhall are finding it to be so. Month after month people assemble for Meditation, arriving in silence, meditating in silence, and departing in silence – and the steady flow of poetry, prayer, inspired conversation and other forms of reflection that come my-very- privileged-way after each gathering are truly heartening.

This evening I recalled a wise priest I held very, very dear in the earliest years of my own priestly ministry. He’d lost his faith, once, he told me. A visit to the bishop to offer his resignation became the turning point of his life. The gently compassionate and non-judgmental stillness in the bishop, who spoke barely a word, facilitated a converting realisation:

I’ve been much too fond of the sound of my own voice!

With great excitement my friend returned to his parish, newly determined, encouraged by his own pastor, the bishop, to seek God in silence. He found God there – and went on much later to lead me and countless others to the same place. Preachers and pastors spend a lot of time talking and strategising – “it goes with the turf”, we tell each other. But the words we speak – and the faith we so rely on – are equally the better informed when we’ve become as fond of the sound of silence as we are of our own voices. And I’m looking at a mirror πŸ˜‰

Thank you. Thank you to my quiet fellow pilgrims.

13 thoughts on “SILENT MUSIC

  1. Thanks, Simon- very true! I think Charles Wesley puts it beautifully in the following hymn:

    1 OPEN, Lord, my inward ear, And bid my heart rejoice; Bid my quiet spirit hear Thy comfortable voice; Never in the whirlwind found, Or where earthquakes rock the place, Still and silent is the sound, The whisper of thy grace.

    2 From the world of sin, and noise, And hurry, I withdraw; For the small and inward voice I wait with humble awe; Silent am I now and still, Dare not in thy presence move; To my waiting soul reveal The secret of thy love.

    3 Thou didst undertake for me, For me to death wast sold; Wisdom in a mystery Of bleeding love unfold; Teach the lesson of thy cross, Let me die with thee to reign; All things let me count but loss, So I may thee regain.

    4 Show me, as my soul can hear, The depth of inbred sin! All the unbelief declare, The pride that lurks within; Take me, whom thyself hast bought, Bring into captivity Every high aspiring thought, That would not stoop to thee.

    5 Lord, my time is in thy hand, My soul to thee convert; Thou canst make me understand, Though I am slow of heart; Thine in whom I live and move, Thine the work, the praise is thine; Thou art wisdom, power, and love, And all thou art is mine.

  2. Thanks Thomas … “my soul to thee convert”. Absolutely. You may enjoy the prayer we used at the Eucharist here at 9.15 this bright morning:

    Dear God, we pray for another way of being,
    another way of knowing.
    Across the difficult terrain of our existence
    we have attempted to build a highway
    and in so doing have lost our footpath.
    God, lead us to our footpath.
    Lead us there where, in simplicity,
    we may move at the speed of natural creatures
    and feel the earth’s love beneath our feet.
    Lead us there where, step-by-step,
    we may feel the movement of creation in our hearts.
    And lead us there where, side-by-side,
    we may feel the embrace of the common soul.
    Nothing can be loved at speed.
    God, lead us to the slow path;
    to the joyous insights of the pilgrim;
    another way of knowing;
    another way of being. Amen.

    Michael Leunig (b. 1945)
    Common Prayer Collection
    Collins Dove, 1990

    Thank you for our continuing conversation …

  3. Reblogged this on Teacher as Transformer and commented:
    I spent a weekend a couple of years ago at a weekend retreat. There was some talking allowed, but it was generally not much more than a whisper. At the end I was surprised to hear my voice and how loud it sounded to me at that moment. The silence of the weekend showed me, as Simon suggests here, that stillness is a space where our soul opens up. That message is central to the writing of Parker Palmer and Thomas Merton. It seems at odds with the busyness and cacophony of our early 21st Century. Each morning I spend time in our small chapel meditating. It began with a struggle to achieve 30 minutes. Now, I walk out and realize I was there closer to an hour most days. Silence is an exquisite space to begin my day.

  4. Great post. When I feel myself becoming overwhelmed, it’s usually because I haven’t spent time sitting quietly, somewhere alone.

  5. Ivon: thanks so much … “that stillness is a space where our soul opens up” – yes, yes. And, with you, Parker J Palmer leads me (all unknowingly!) there, in company with Thomas Merton, and you, and so many more. Thank you πŸ™‚

  6. Thank you to all the lovely people (and to Ivon who wonderfully facilitates new friendships) who, by “liking” this note have signalled a resonance shared. Grace and peace for you – who have shared both with me πŸ™‚

  7. You are welcome Simon. I could hear the voices of Parker Palmer and Thomas Merton mixing with your voice. It made for a lovely symphonic message.

  8. Great Post absolutely. It’s all God’s Grace.
    If there is no stillness,
    there is no silence.
    If there is no silence,
    there is no insight.
    If there is no insight,
    there is no clarity.

  9. How nice to hear from you again. I’ve thought so often of your words of wisdom during the Christmas season. And I now know the difference between the Catholic and the Anglican church. Forgive me my error of ignorance at that time.

    The idea of grasping God’s teaching in silence is beautiful with an intimacy that our constant chatter has foregone. Thank you so much for reminding me of this blessing.

    We have tried here a couple of times your method of looking at a verse or an idea from each persons perspective and I am quite taken with it for the varied responses that were forthcoming
    provided for several additional discussions.

    Best wishes to you in this “New Year” which is now almost one quarter gone!.

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