Saturday, September 27, 2014


My apologies, gentle readers, for the long silences on this blog recently. It seems I have been hoisted on my own petard: finishing vol. 1 of the silence book has plunged me into silence. In addition, the stress of all the years of working on it has now caught up with me and I find I am quite exhausted.

To add to the fun, I have just had a cataract operation. I'm only a few days post-op and the eye hasn't settled down yet, so writing is difficult due to the now radical difference in the way the two eyes see: it is like having a sparkling clean window on one side, and one covered with nicotine scum on the other. I hadn't realised that the cataract was blocking almost all the blue spectrum. The return of blue light has enhanced a sense wonder as I look out on a world newly made. Now I can't wait to get the other eye done, not only for return of the light but also because the two ways of seeing fight against each other and make me feel a bit seasick!

Otherwise, life proceeds as normal. Autumn is here and so are the orb-weaving spiders. We have two magnificent webs by the front door, strung between the brick wall of the next-door house, and the hedge, and the garden is full of webs, too. The pumpkins are safely gathered in as frost has threatened a couple of nights during the past week. The days are warm, though, with slanting gold light that filters through the fog in the morning and gently bathes the landscape in the afternoon. Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness...

Autumnal blessings on you all... And thank you for your patience.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

'Silence: A User's Guide' Now Available

I am delighted to announce that Wipf and Stock has just released volume 1 of Silence: A User's Guide. Books are available to order from their website under the Cascade imprint.  (with thanks to AM for the link).

[click on the image to enlarge]

Thursday, September 04, 2014


Over the last year or so I've been thinking a lot about joy, not only because the topic has come up in some of the seminars I've been attending, but also because of reading ancient texts. I've long been of the conviction that joy is not an affect but something far deeper, an aspect of the 'ground'.

Last week I was reading a thesis on the Holy Saturday theme in RS Thomas, and one of the books the author cited was by Jean LeLoup (interesting name!) called Being Still. It's an excellent little summary of the basics of hesychia and goes a lot deeper than most introductory books. While he misuses 'experience' and 'transcend' ('transfigure would be better), of joy he writes (p. 36):

"...contentment is not yet joy. Joy is the [experience] in the depths of your being that the transpersonal, the goal of all desire, dwells here and now. God Is. No one can rob you of this joy.

"Obviously we are no longer speaking of something sensible, affective or rational, but of the ground of being. For the ancient monks, it is only when you can root your joy here that you can truly radiate joy in daily life.

"Tis joy no longer depends on externals, on what happens to us. It is no longer a question of health or temperament but of fidelity to the uncreated Presence who dwells within each person. This is joy that abides. This joy is not the cheerfulness or lighthearted of the privileged temperament, but the deep tranquillity of someone who encounters another not to fulfil his or her own needs but for the pleasure of communing with the life which at once unites and transcends them."