Listening to Sacred Stillness: Echoes of Remembered Stillness

Listening to Sacred Stillness: Echoes of Remembered Stillness November 12, 2019

Echoes of Remembered Stillness

Some of us experience our contemplative practices as new each day, new every morning. We may struggle to find our level of listening, to settle into stillness, each time we practice.

Many of us, as our practice builds into experience, discover we can hear the echoes of remembered stillness. We sit comfortably, breathing deeply, and remember how we have listened to sacred stillness in the past.

Our practice is not about evaluating or assessing how well we are listening. We do not have expectations or goals about how well we are listening to stillness. It is not as though we are trying to recapture ways we have listened before. The echoes of remembered stillness do not distract us from listening to the stillness of the present moment.

When we have practiced listening to sacred stillness for a length of time, for years, it shapes how we listen.

We become different listeners by practicing contemplative listening. Some of us are able to relax into our contemplative practices. Others discover new ways to pay unfocused attention.

Each time we practice listening contemplatively we explore new ways to pay attention.

In my experience we will hear the echoes of remembered stillness when we least expect them. As I sit and listen, giving my consent to how spiritual life is alive in me, I will hear echoes of earlier stillness.

The sacred stillness in the world around me is the same as the sacred stillness within me. I am listening to the same sacred stillness today as I listened to a year ago.

As we practice listening to sacred stillness we experience it in new ways. We hear echoes of remembered stillness we have heard before.

Each time we listen opens us to stillness in new ways.

Remembered Stillness Reminds Us

Sometimes we remember and sometimes we forget.

Things happen we believe we will remember for the rest of our lives, but new experiences crowd them out. Moments we struggle for years to achieve fade into the forgotten past. People who show us things which change our lives can get lost in our crowded stories.

We become intrigued and distracted, losing sight of what is important to us in the swirling tides of urgent demands. Some of us get completely caught up in winning and earning and forget about what inspires us.

Some of us set aside days or weekends for remembering, but we spend them running errands and grilling hotdogs.

It is easy for us to forget stillness we have experienced and it takes practice for us to her its echoes.

We cannot hold onto the sacred stillness to which we practice listening. Our contemplative practices are not shelves on which we preserve and display our experiences.

Contemplative practices are not about compiling a list of our most meaningful experiences. We are not putting together our contemplative greatest hits.

I believe the echoes of remembered stillness we hear are intended to encourage us. Some of them remind us of how differently we listen now than we did in the past. They may help us recognize where our practice continues to have room to grow.

We are not evaluating how we are doing. They are not distractions. The echoes of remembered stillness we hear draw us into listening more deeply.

When we listen to sacred stillness we close our eyes and open our heart and minds. We give our consent to spiritual life to be alive and active within us and the world around us.

Listening to sacred stillness is how we stay out of our own way.

Hearing Echoes of Remembered Stillness

Many of the echoes I hear of remembered stillness do not come to me while I am practicing.

Throughout the rest of my day, while I am living everyday life, I hear the echoes.

They may be memories of particular times I spent listening to sacred stillness. Some them include feeling the sun on my skin or glimpsing the flickering light of a candle.

Each echo I hear draws me in and reminds me of the power of contemplative practice.

The echoes of remembered stillness we hear help us remember sacred stillness and spiritual life. When we get distracted by the concerns and anxieties all around us we hear echoes of stillness.

We take time to catch our breath or take a walk to help us breathe and we hear echoes of stillness. When we pause to look up at the leaves of a tree or the stars in the sky we hear the echoes of remembered stillness.

As we continue to practice contemplative listening the echoes of remembered stillness support us.

The more we listen the more clearly we hear the echoes.

Each echo we hear reminds us why we practice listening to sacred stillness.

Remembered Stillness Draws Us In

We hear the echoes of remembered stillness washing over us and drawing us in.

Remembering the time we listened to sacred stillness while watching the ocean, it echoes within us. We remember the time we sat listening to stillness with a group of people and their listening helped us listen.

When our schedule becomes overwhelmed and we run out of time echoes of remembered stillness remind us. We need to listen to sacred stillness as much as we need to accomplish our goals.

Spiritual life lives within us and in the world around us. We listen to sacred stillness and grow into the rhythm of spiritual life. The echoes of remembered stillness reverberate in us and help free us from the distractions which surround us.

We remember stillness like musical instruments which carry memories of every note they have played. Listening to sacred stillness shapes our ability to hear the echoes of remembered stillness.

We hear the echoes of stillness as our lives begin to vibrate in sync with the rhythms of spiritual life.

How often will we hear echoes of remembered stillness today?

When can we take time to listen for the echoes of remembered listening this week?

[Image by mirabelka szuszu]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is and his email address is

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