Concerning Stillness, Songs, and Soul Friends

A reader writes:Carl, when you are sufficiently silent with the “waters stilled” how do you experience revelation. I suppose a better question would be what is your experience “there” like? Does God float into view … or does God whisper … ?? Or do you find a path to look inwardly in order to find answers, results, etc. I guess that one overarching question here would be “Do you have a purpose or question in mind before you start out?”I believe radically that "silence is praise" (Psalm 65:1, t … [Read more...]

Richard of St. Victor on Contemplation

The more I read Richard of St. Victor, the more I love him. Here are a few jewels from the fifteenth chapter of Book IV of The Mystical Ark:See to it that the very time He begins to knock at the door is not the first time that you begin to want to throw out the crowds of those who make noise... All thoughts, empty as well as  noxious, which do not serve for our benefit must be judged to be strangers. In truth, we possess them like domestic servants or slaves, whom we involve for our use or … [Read more...]

The Point of Mystical Writing

Now because the Holy Spirit speaks through Isaac's mouth, the words of this thrice-blessed saint are matchless in their beauty and are fired with a divine spark. That is why, even though he writes so much, he makes a holy silence come to rest within our spirit, just as if there were no one speaking, but we only heard the distant echoing of a sea hidden from our sight.—Photios Kontoglou's Encomium for Isaac the Syrian,in The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the SyrianThe above quotation is … [Read more...]

Before We Face the Monkey Mind

A reader has written to me with the following question:I make my living as a psychotherapist & most of my work is spiritually oriented counseling with Christians.  I have long been trying to introduce clients to contemplation through encouraging brief periods of silence, solitude and openness  (15-20 min).  I also taught an introductory  course through my church.  Finally, I am preparing to lecture other therapists on using contemplation in therapy.As I have tried to introduce others we … [Read more...]

Are Contemplatives Privileged?

For some time now, I've noticed how gatherings of contemplatives often seem to consist largely of individuals who are well educated and/or affluent. As much as I love exploring the contemplative dimension of Christianity, I worry that only those folks who seem to enjoy a lion's share of our society's abundance appear to be pursuing the spirituality of silence. Is this just a projection of my own socio-political angst — or am I on to something here, some sort of blind spot within the c … [Read more...]

Mystery of the Missing Silence

If you have heard me speak any time over the last six months you have probably heard me go on and on about Psalm 65, which is often less-than-ideally translated into modern English versions of the Bible. The most literal (and allusive) translation of this Psalm begins in this way: "To you, silence is praise, O God in Zion..." (emphasis added). Most translations, however, tend to render the Hebrew word dumiyya (which has a meaning both of "silence" but also "expectation") as "awaiting" or … [Read more...]

Monday Morning Again

It's Monday morning. For some of us, it's the beginning of another hectic week. Others might be facing the challenge of looking for employment, or creating meaning and purpose in the face of retirement or long-term disability. Wherever your life's journey might have taken you to reach this morning, I invite you to consider the sheer grace of the present moment. … [Read more...]


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