This morning in the bath I was thinking more about seeds of peace and war, about simplicity and travelling light. The bath is a good place to think, and our bathroom is white and full of sunshine, which brings clarity and good thoughts. Illumination.
I like to pray in the bath. So I was praying about the longing to walk lighter and lighter, and told my Lord I wanted to be as light and see-through in my being as a lace-wing, and that made Him laugh. I have always been rather hefty.
My thoughts moved on to consider silence. I love silence. Though I live in a houseful of people – and always have done – I spend much time in solitude and silence. If I have a favourite saint, I think it is St Joseph. In the gospel record he is entirely silent – never says a thing – but practical, nurturing, kind; in his silence is no condemnation, rejection or judgement. The gospel writers offer, in their portrait of St Joseph, an icon of the Silence that fosters the living Word – the Silence with which the Word is at home; the Silence that nurtures the Word as it grows to maturity. With kind Silence the Word grows in grace and truth.
And as I swam through these thoughts, something pointed out to me a reality I had never noticed. I was holding in the Light some events – words – that had hurt me. They had got stuck in my soul like splinters and I couldn’t get them out. When that happens, usually I talk about them. But the Light said “Sssh”, so this time I didn’t. Still they were sharp and stuck into me and didn’t fade.
And then it pointed out to me, silence keeps emotions in a non-material state. If I had discussed these things that hurt me, relational baggage would have evolved. Silence allowed them to dissolve in peace. It dawned on me that just as material possessions hold the seeds of war – become sources of contention – so also contention materializes emotion into baggage, if you see what I mean. Therefore silence is an essential component of simplicity. It preserves emotional, relational simplicity. Silence facilitates travelling emotionally and relationally light.
I am not recommending that a person who has been abused keeps it a secret, or that friends freeze each other out by refusing to talk things through. There is a healthy place for telling one’s story and being honest with one another.
What I mean is cultivating an interior open luminous spaciousness in which events and experiences can be dissolved of their heaviness by the joy of inner light.