[The Lord of Silence: general index]

12    Silence: Precious but...

There are those who know the value of silence as a way of discovering values through close encounters with the spirit of God, and of communion with people voluntarily gathered - a quiet offering of sweet-smelling worship to God. Even after a soft and spiritual experience of God, weak creatures can be overcome by the temptation to throw themselves voluptuously into the inebriating waltz of words among picturesque and tumultuous crowds and to participate in the chorus of vain words heavy with evil portent.

It is hard for those who are victims of spiritual weakness to pass by a Cistercian spectacle and not personally enter into it - not become actors in a psychological drama of communal ritual. Memories of other pleasures and moments of exalted involvement stronger than the games of the world, float before the eyes of the weak. A quick vertical fall happens as it does to all who harbour a vice.

The bitter awakening of such as have taken part in an empty game for material prizes or a brilliant but limited spectacle without light or enlightened fellowship, brings on a desolate loneliness in an unexpected form. It is frightening, like claustrophobia. Victims of the illusions of the world discover in themselves a seemingly bottomless abyss of spiritual emptiness.

Then remembering forgotten silent worship brings on regret for the fullness, communion, and peace that it offers. Going beyond regret to repentance and faith in the mercy of God opens up the serene vision of meeting with Friends on earth and the Friend in Heaven. All gather to live in time, in companionable worship, and in exchanging spoken and unspoken thoughts and words. Together they abolish all night, emptiness, and loneliness that for a time filled their lives because of an erroneous relationship with the world.

Gradually clarity is rediscovered in silent worship. Thus is born a healthy relationship to the world, to which is brought an on-going witness of faith, hope, and charity.

Bologna, 12 II 1988

I may reach God through Keats, you by Beethoven, and a third through Einstein. Should not education to the Christian mean just this - enlarging and cultivating the country of God; and the subjects on any school time-table be thought of as avenues to an increasingly fuller life in God, to change the metaphor, windows, each of which gives us a new view of the Kingdom of Heaven?

Caroline C. Graveson (1937), Christian Faith and Practice, 444.

The living church has a prophetic function - the duty of using its faculty of spiritual vision so as to penetrate below the surface of life to its inner meaning...

William Charles Braithwaite (1909), Christian Faith and Practice, 360.

Translation by George T. Peck

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