Thursday, January 27, 2011

Silence . . .

Silence is context and end, beholding the means. In the final analysis, this is all we need to know.

3 Comments:

Blogger REDdirt said...

In forsaking sound we truly hear.

12:28 am, January 28, 2011  
Blogger fs said...

Maggie, I was reluctant to reply to your previous response because a) it seemed to me that you either did not read, or did not comprehend, what I had written (perhaps you were put off by the language), and b) it implied that the validity of anyone's relationship with God can be subject to arbitration by a third party.

But on reading this entry, I feel compelled to elaborate a bit further on the latter point. I detect an assumption in some of your recent writings that there is only one way to be in relationship with God, and that way has certain strict, immutable requirements. There must be certain conditions, certain steps, and long, hard seeking -- or "work" -- on the part of the seeker to achieve the "true," or "correct" relationship with God. If the relationship does not meet "just this" criteria, it is, prima facie, invalid.

In my experience (that word again!) and in the witness of history, God doesn't always, or even necessarily, operate in such defined, barricaded, predictable ways. Eighteen years ago, I was an agnostic, perfectly content to live out my life in a kind of brave, stoic, existentialist joy. And yet God, for mysterious reasons of his own, saw fit to penetrate my soul. He not only found me; he opened a channel, a connection, a lifeline, from which I have drawn ever since. He assured me he'll never leave me, and I trust his promise. I believe him.

That's how it worked for me; that's one person's experience, although I know it is not unique. This doesn't make it "The Truth" or "The Way." For you, it may be something entirely different; it may indeed require a concentrated, deliberate movement through silence. That's fine, and if that way can be, even roughly, codified into accessibility so as to open the doors a bit wider for others, it is more than fine: it is wonderfully valuable, a great gift to others. So your work is indeed necessary and good.

But technique and careful practice are not the only ways. We hear about Grace, unearned Grace, that just happens to people. It makes no sense, no more sense than a justice system that would grant the one-hour worker the same pay as the eight-hour worker or that would allow common weed seeds to grow into sheltering trees or that would open the gates to heaven to those who become like a little children.

God is not rational. God is not predictable. None of us -- none -- possess "the truth." God is the truth. God is bigger than all of us -- and, by extension, any of us. No matter how much we may wish to define, capture, or even protect him, God is a free agent. He eludes our efforts at definition and control.

We'll just have to keep doing the best we can within that humbling reality.

6:14 pm, January 28, 2011  
Blogger Maggie Ross said...

Grace is always a surprise, and utterly unpredictable.

But discernment of what that grace has effected is based on centuries of experimentation and wisdom. In Christian discernment there is also a theological element, which is that we can never know God, but only the effects of God's work. All the great contemplatives in every tradition agree on this point.

There is also a psychological element. All of what we call experience, all, is interpretation.

We should give thanks for what we have been given but never, ever, make claims about it. All of our interpretations should always be provisional, because God has something better waiting for us down the road—if, that is, we have not locked ourselves into our own interpretations.

9:37 pm, January 28, 2011  

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