Not a week goes by without some article that focuses on some type of craving whether it be food, a relationship, a substance or a gadget. I personally crave silence! I am so tired of a world that seems to have the need to fill every moment with some kind of sound. I never thought I would come to the place where I felt the desire to simply listen to nothing. When I was a high school student in a Catholic boarding school silent retreats were part of the curriculum, occurring every few months. Imagine a gaggle of teen age girls trying desperately not to talk and me in particular trying not to laugh. My particular group of friends would do anything in our power to get one of the so called “goody two shoes” to break. Which of course always led to us being separated and confined to our rooms. Waiting for the three days and nights of silent hell to be over with was a nightmare. I could not possibly understand the value the good sisters were trying to impart to us, since my internal chatter needed to be shared with anyone I came in contact with. “After all” Sister Immaculata would say “one does not need to express every thought they have”. I wonder what she would think of the reality shows. Oh how time changes our perceptions. I have spent years on the road and been inundated with sounds of all kinds, and the amount of noise that surrounds us seems to have grown exponentially. No matter where you are now, you can hear someone talking on their cell phone. Do we have that much more to share? Is it necessary to report every moment of the day to anyone who might be available? Perhaps we are trying to find someone who will actually take the time to listen. That’s a pretty tall order these days. Since many of us feel overwhelmed and are lacking in the “self care” department. How can we pay attention to what someone is saying when we don’t take the time to listen to ourselves? That’s where silence and solitude come into play. Without them we lose our ability to cultivate an” interior life”. You might want to give yourself permission to just be quiet and still. It will probably be a struggle initially since the mind is often buffeted by sights, sounds and experiences. But, I can guarantee that if you make the effort to honor silence periodically, you will feel more inner peace and tranquility
For most of us, the most powerful sense of meaning comes from doing something that makes us feel as if we’re making a contribution to the world. Making a contribution connects us to our community and our society as a whole, in a way that makes us feel better when we know that there’s something we’ve done to help someone else, particularly when that person is in need. There’s a reason that charity is an integral part of every world religion and most decent societies help other people because it is very clearly, a vital component of life. There are so many ways to make a difference. Last week I was privileged to witness firsthand individuals who give their time and loving kindness to those who have served our country and have returned wounded. The facility for wounded warriors is staffed by extraordinary people who seem to have limitless energy and copious amounts of compassion. So often we get caught up in our own physical or mental pains that our world become incredibly insular. I have been struggling with joint pain that will necessitate two knee replacements. There are times when I rail against the universe as to “why me”? When I heard the stories of men and women, some of whom have suffered incredible trauma, it gave me new perspective on my own issues. My mother’s favorite quote was “ I cried when I had no shoes, till I saw the man with no feet”. Unfortunately, it is easy to forget how lucky we our since it is quite human to be involved with our own pain. One of the ways to sustain feeling fortunate about what life hands us is to find meaning and purpose. When we attach meaning to whatever we do or whatever fate befalls us, life seems to become more spiritual. Many of us become aggravated at the slightest inconveniences, taking time and energy to try to find whose fault it was or why we are always the one the proverbial bird finds to eliminate on. Perhaps taking a moment to stop your internal patter to think about one thing you appreciate about your life will help you reframe the situation. I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Barbara WInter“ When you are on the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on, or you will be taught to fly”.