Monday 28 August 2017

A Desire to be Speechless

I have spent a lot of this week wondering. Wondering about disagreements, division, disputes and the unspeakable nature of being in union with the Divine. This all began last weekend at a church meeting concerning a controversial and important local decision. I must say, I found the meeting very difficult. I don't think I am worried about the presence of conflict, but this gathering disturbed me greatly. It wasn't the decision that needed to be made, but the implications on relationships that brought me concern. A lot of words were said that day; arguments for and against, some mentioned calmly, some with passion, and others with anger. We came away with a result, but also a lot of people who felt hurt or unheard. I am not mentioning this to bring any blame or to cast any judgment, but simply to say that at times disagreements are very difficult and painful.

Also this week, the Marriage Equality debate has fired up in Australia. This too, at times, has turned ugly. When people feel strongly one way or another, it can certainly bring out the worst in people. I am very passionate about this public issue and have been reflecting this week on the best way to voice my view without causing harm to those who may disagree. I have also been hoping and praying that those who think differently to me may find respectful and non-violent ways to express themselves. Unfortunately, this has not been the case in many instances. People on both sides of the fence have used damaging actions and words in an attempt to make their point. Is there a way to hold respectful dialogue and debate when people are so passionate?

In the middle of this week, I was fortunate to spend some time at the Residential Retreat for the Graduate Diploma in Spiritual Direction. I assisted with some supervision sessions and led a workshop on the second day. I was able to sit in on a session exploring Teresa of Avila. While delving into her Interior Castle with its different rooms, I was struck again by the unspeakable experience of God that takes place in those inner rooms. What a blessing, in a week full of words, to sit in the presence of the Divine for which there really are no words at all.

It had me wondering about the importance we put upon words. We always seem to have something to say, particularly around issues for which we are passionate. Silence can be viewed as apathy or ignorance. I wonder if there is value in stopping the talk and being still together? One church community have come out publicly in support of LGBTIQ people and marriage equality; The Quakers. Is it just an accident that this faith community are known for using far less words than other church communities?  

Our society seems so uncomfortable with wordless moments. Silences are filled. They are labelled as awkward or wasteful. But what of the easy silence between old friends? What of the reverent silence of a crowd when they know they are witnessing a significant moment? What of the stillness of the night that gives all creation rest? Perhaps we need to be deliberate about creating wordless moments and places of stillness, for it certainly doesn't come naturally for many. In my wondering this week, I have a feeling that in these silent spaces is where the healing begins. For me, it has been the place where my soul is refreshed and somehow I find the right words to say when it is time to speak. In my longing to be closer to the Divine, I desire to become speechless.

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