It’s odd how guilty we feel when we do nothing, as though there were something sinful or shameful about it. It’s the same with silence. We are often unnerved by it and do whatever we can to fill the apparent void. So, we live in a world restless with activity, deafened by our own noise and the chatter of those around us. As for solitude, forget it! Loneliness is to be feared as the ultimate indicator of failure, and being alone is to be equated with loneliness, isn’t it? I don’t think so, but I suspect I am in a minority.
One of the hardest things to learn in the monastery is that silence and not-doing and spending time in solitude are the way in which we experience the word and activity of God in our souls. As soon as one speaks of the soul, of course, some people become uncomfortable. The truth is, everything we see or hear trembles on the verge of eternity — only we devote huge efforts to ensuring that we never actually peep over the edge. ‘It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God,’ says the Letter to the Hebrews. Terrible, indeed, and there are few who dare to let go and allow God to be all in all.
Today, if you have the opportunity of a little more silence than usual, the chance of doing nothing in particular for a minute, of being alone for a while, allow yourself a precious moment or two of prayer. Invite God to fill your emptiness. Paradoxically, you may discover that daring to do nothing is the most worthwhile activity of all. Try it.
Good news for Howton Grove Priory
We are delighted to announce that we have a Certificate of Sponsorship from UKBA for our postulant-to-be from New York. All being well, she will join the community this summer — just a year later than we had originally hoped!