Silence & Writer’s Block

I have a friend who is struggling to complete a dissertation. Entire days can go by without writing a single sentence. Sitting at the computer is an exercise in fear and frustration.To say my friend has writer's block is — well, you know, just another label. But like so many labels, it has a measure of usefulness. It's interesting to read the Wikipedia entry on Writer's Block. It describes the condition not only as the inability to write, but also "as the affected writer viewing their work as i … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day (for Ali)

Believe me as one who has experience, you will find much more among the woods then ever you will among books. Woods and stones will teach you what you can never hear from any master. — Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, The Letters … [Read more...]

Concerning Spiritual Noise, (Lack of) Inner Silence, and Singlemindedness

AM writes: I find most of your posts on the contemplative life too congested with many labels and categories - mystics and non-mystics, oppositional thinking and non-oppositional thinking, Christian mysticism and ordinary Christian spirituality, Protestant mystics and Catholic mystics, mysticism and contemplation, etc. This appears to me not only an intellectual congestion but also a spiritual noise, a portrayal of a lack of inner silence. Somehow, I visit your blog ... to be nourished … [Read more...]

Maggie Ross’s Response

Here's what Maggie Ross posted on her blog, in response to the questions I posed to her yesterday.First, for those just joining the conversation, here is what I wrote to her: Dear Maggie Ross,First of all, I'm honored even to be mentioned in your blog. I read Pillars of Flame years ago and was impressed by its eloquence, the force of its argument, and its spiritual depth. I still consult both appendices regularly.Now, as to my unlikely appearance in your blog: I'm humbled by your … [Read more...]

Consistency

I've been praying — and thinking — a lot about consistency lately.I struggle with self-sabotage issues. I make a commitment, and then back away from it. I commit to spending an hour a day in silent contemplation, and then I over commit my life so that I just never seem to find the time for that half hour in the evening. I want to deepen my immersion in silence — both external and internal — except that, well, my behavior doesn't seem to match my intention.The traditional virtue that applies t … [Read more...]

Interior and Exterior

A friend of mine was party to a conversation among several folks committed to the spiritual life. I wasn't there, so I have no idea who these folks are, except for my friend who told the tale. Apparently, the subject of silence came up. Everyone agreed that silence was essential to living a contemplative life. But then, something interesting happened. One person said, "I just don't turn on my television any more." Another chimed in, "That's right. My grandson gave me an MP3 player and I've never … [Read more...]

Means of Liberation and Internal Conversion

Yesterday at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit's lay associates gathering day, I attended a class in which we considered a document called Lay Cistercian Identity, drawn up at an international gathering of Cistercian lay associates in Spain two years ago. We particularly examined a list of "Cistercian values and practices" commended to laypersons as "a means of liberation and internal conversion." These values and practices include:Prayer and praiseConfidence and abandonment to … [Read more...]


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