This blog features reflections on current affairs through the lens of my Quaker faith and practice and offers not only analysis but a perspective on hope, renewal, and reconciliation - a “lift”, as I call it - during these stressful, chaotic times.
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Cathy and I practice a series of hushes in our lives. We have a moment of quiet in the car before we go on a trip or in anticipation of a worrisome doctor’s visit; or before meals, even in restaurants; or when there is a special moment of relief, or cause for celebration, in our lives, or sometimes we have some silence before we need to talk about our disagreements. There are longer periods of quiet in community, too, during our hour long Quaker meeting for worship and shorter periods of settling silence before Quaker committee meetings. These personal and communal times of hush are like little “speed bumps” of recognition and blessing in our other wise too often busy and occupied lives.
Likewise, I have long admired the practice in the Celtic tradition of constantly blessing all life throughout the day - the morning dew; the cleaning of the house; the flowers as they bloom, and so on. Other traditions, and other people, may already have greater awareness of holding a steady flow of hushed blessing of life, and I welcome their example and faithful blessings on behalf of all of us.
Ideally we all need individual moments of hush throughout our day. Perhaps to take in a gorgeous sunrise or sunset. Or to take a moment to absorb the unexpected and upsetting tips and jolts in life that would benefit from from just taking in the reality of the difficulty we face before we try to address it. And then for some of us, prayer provides a hushed time to express gratitude and lay out our intimate lives to a larger Presence to provide perspective to our ego, anxieties and self-centeredness as we pray for others. I hope all of you have your own times when you have intentional moments of quiet in your lives, and I wonder what life would be without these times of hush.
There is a (probably apocryphal) legend about the explorer Livingston going along in the jungles of Africa with his entourage of porters when suddenly the porters all unexpectedly stopped and refused to move. Livingston couldn't understand what was going on. Finally a translator was able to get one of the porters to explain the situation. The porters claimed they had been traveling too fast, and now they needed to rest to let their souls catch up with them. I believe the story has at least some relevance to our personal lives and and the surge of history we are living today.
We simply must at least try to observe times of reflection, meditation and hush in our lives to gain perspective and some peace in the midst of the hectic and confusing pace of modern life. If we don’t we will continue to experience what the porters had the sense to try to avoid: our souls will always be lagging breathlessly behind, the soul being a central arbitrator and guide for our spiritual well being.
I am aware, of course, that a few moments of hush in our lives will probably not be enough to offset the intense personal, social and political stress many of us are under. Simply blundering ahead, however, going faster without pauses and taking time for reflection, is not good for our physical and mental well being as well as our souls. Further, it compromises our ability to act with grace and nonviolence as we deal with the daily portion of life we are given. Conversely, of course, when we do center our lives with quiet, we are far better able to hold truer to our values and right actions.
Finding time to provide hushes in our lives is really not that difficult if we choose to do so, and I assume most of us already have some sense of regular moments when we do pause and bring a blessed moment of healing gratitude and grace into our lives. That said, I am aware I need to be even more intentional with my hushed and quiet times, and I wish that for all of us.
Blessings, dear friends,