Saturday, April 04, 2020

Silent Knowing IV

Some people complain that silence is elitist, that it is isolationist and ignores the problems of the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. Silence is eucharistic, returning and offering our life’s God-given energy back into the vast beholding of God for God to use where it is needed. We are never less alone than when we are alone and, as Antony of the Desert wrote, ‘Whether alone or with the elders, your life and your death is with your neighbour.’ Communities are only as healthy as the solitudes that make them up, so that it is incumbent upon each of us to do the transfiguring work of silence.
I started this talk by quoting Graham Ward, and would like to end in the same way. It is a poem, and reading poetry requires that we use both hemispheres in optimal harmony:

                                                   Silent Knowing

Silence tenderizes, senses constellate,
Edges angulate, fuse and melt. I tend
To the gold circlet bounding the black eye
Of a blue-jay, scratching through the dead leaves
On a spring morning. I tend to the bold
White bells of the snowdrops poised between proud
Beauty and heads humbled by its presence.

Silence tenders the vivid, the vital,
Scintillas of sense, attentive delights:
Diamond frosted spiders’ webs, white carved swans
Paddling the infinite waves of quietness.
I contend that all things portend their glory
When we can see – receive – when we can care.


Blogger Ultra Monk said...

I pulled out your book Silence A User's Guide:Process two days ago. I am totally loving reflection on its words while I have time here in isolation.

8:24 pm, April 04, 2020  
Anonymous Al said...


I am now moving into the silence of the nonhumans starting with the works of Marc Bekoff...

8:24 am, April 09, 2020  
Anonymous Al said...

Simple sharing from silence this Holy Saturday. I count the following as 'apophatic texts' in Maggie's term and will not exchange for any "textual interpretation" of Holy Saturday out there. Simply profound:

“Descended into Hell”: Rowan Williams on von Balthasar on Holy Saturday and the Trinity

…God’s ‘hiding’ of God in the dereliction of the Cross and the silence of Holy Saturday is in fact the definitive revelation. ‘It is precisely the unsurpassable radicality of this concealment which turns our gaze to it and makes the eyes of faith take notice’ (MP, 52). This does not mean, as one kind of modern theology would have it, that Holy Saturday establishes that the transcendent God is dead, emptied out into the pathos of the crucified; quite the opposite. Transcendence, in the sense of radical liberty from the systems of the created world, is given definition by God’s enduring, as God, the depths of godlessness. Equally. this is not some privileging of human vulnerability over impassibility,as if, pace the German Protestant theologian Jurgen Moltmann, God can only become truly or fully God by incorporating human suffering into divine activity (MP, 65-6). The emptiness of Holy Saturday is precisely the fullness, the already actual fullness of God: God can only be in humanity’s hell, because of what God already and eternally is (MP, 137).

God must be such as to make it possible for divine life to live in the heart of its own opposite, for divine life to be victorious simply by ‘sustaining’ itself in hell. But this directs us clearly to the conclusion that the divine identity cannot be a straightforward sameness or self-equivalence. God’s freedom to be God in the centre of what is not God (creation, suffering, hell) must not be grounded in an abstract liberty of the divine will (such a contentless liberty would only divide the divine will from any coherent account of divine consistency and thus personal dependability), but in the character of God’s life. If God can be revealed in the cross, if God can be actively God in hell, God is God in or even as what is other than God (a dead man, a lost soul). Yet that otherness must itself be intrinsic to God, not a self-alienation. If we are serious in regarding God as intrinsically loving, this otherness must be something to do with divine love. Once again, we cannot think of God’s presence in the otherness of death and hell as if God initially lacked something which could be developed only through the process of Jesus’ experience.
…But if the otherness within God is true otherness and if it is in no way conditioned from beyond, then it can only be imagined as the action of love and freedom; and an act of love and freedom that causes real otherness to subsist can in turn only be imagined as a self-emptying, a kenosis. Balthasar several times draws on the theological writings of the great Russian thinker Sergii Bulgakov for this language of an eternal kenosis in the life of God which itself then makes possible the kenosis involved in creation (MP, 35: GL7, 213-14; TD2, 264, note 27): God the Father pours out his divine life without remainder in the Son; his identity is constituted in this act of giving away, which Bulgakov dramatically describes as ‘self-devastation‘ and Balthasar as a ‘divine godlessness’:
In the Father’s love there is an absolute renunciation of any possibility of God being for himself alone, a letting-go of the divine being, and in this sense a (divine) godlessness (a godlessness of love, of course, which cannot be in any way confused with the godlessness found within this world, although it is also, transcendentally, the ground of the possibility of this worldly godlessness). (TD4, 323-4)

Rowan Williams. ‘Balthasar and the Trinity’, in The Cambridge Companion to Hans Urs von Balthasar. edited by Edward T. Oakes S.J. and David Moss

12:00 am, April 11, 2020  
Anonymous Al said...

If I may post this one please, as an Easter greeting of hope for all Ravenwilderness readers. Thank you.


"The casting off of slavery to fear, slavery to the world, slavery to self-destruction; the healing of our selves, our society, the nations will come through WEEPING, SILENCE, and LAUGHTER.

In the mingling of tears for each tragedy of chance or human making we will begin to touch reality. We need to come to the knowledge of being God's nation of priests in which each person, each nation, is both offerer and offering, mirroring God's kenosis, and co-creating with it.

It is only in the silence at the bottom of these tears that new possibility will arise: in so many of our works - relief of hunger, establishment of human dignity, efforts towards equality of exodus and jubilee, working for world peace - we have exhausted the possibility of our own thoughts and ways. From the silence of the first spark and the first drop of the abyss, from the primordial silence of creation; from hearts hushed in the dark flame of the tears of God who is Silence comes the possibility we seek, and without which we will die.

And the vision of reality that emerges from this silence brings us to laughter: blessed laughter that reveals; laughter that heals; laughter that appreciates; laughter that rejoices in barriers broken; laughter that adores; laughter with tears that leaves us willingly helpless to do but be drawn into the abyss of God's joy."

Maggie Ross
The Fountain and the Furnace: The Way of Tears and Fire (Wipf & Stock, 2014)

8:12 am, April 14, 2020  
Anonymous Al said...

For anyone interested in the relational power of metaphors, please read Mari Joerstad's The Hebrew Bible and Environmental Ethics: Humans, Nonhuman, and the Living Landscape (Cambridge). It has deep resonance with the 'work of silence' of Maggie.


8:45 am, May 01, 2020  
Anonymous Al said...

Two signs that Western, continental philosophy and their philosophers are now tired of their own verbosity by re-grounding (or resting maybe?) in Christian apophatic traditions:

1. Theology and Contemporary Continental Philosophy: The Centrality of a Negative Dialectic by Colby Dickinson, Loyola University of Chicago (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019)

2. A Theology of Failure: Žižek against Christian Innocence by Marika Rose, University of Winchester (Fordham University Press, 2019)

8:38 am, May 04, 2020  

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