Tag Archives: silence

Prayer. Even in Dreams.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, May 31, 2018

dream not interpreted, letter not read

Prayer. Even in Dreams.

Often, when Father Nouwen suggests something, I strongly consider it. Except—in this particular situation. He was talking about silence, and noise, and especially about sleep. Then, he mentioned dreams. Oh, no!

It’s not that I never dream. From what I understand about dreams, I must dream with some regularity. I just never remember my dreams. Other people remember their dreams with great detail. Alas, not me. I am even uncomfortable talking about the fact that I don’t remember my dreams. (Well, hardly ever. Two, maybe three dreams a year, at most. And those, only vague impressions.)

Nouwen is talking about God being a Master Gardener; “Under this gentle regime, we can once again become masters over our own house. Not only during the day, but at night as well….Sleep is no longer a strange darkness, but a friendly curtain behind which dreams continue to live and to send out messages which can be gratefully received.” [1]

I am terribly sorry, Father Nouwen. I can’t make use of this friendly curtain, or the dream-space behind it. I feel my lack of dreams strongly. Periodically, I hear others discussing their dreams. An older friend encounters God on a fairly regular basis in dreams. (That’s how God communicates with my friend…not me!)

Realizing God communicates with me through the written word was (and is) a comfort to me. Gosh, I am so word-based! I know lectio divina and Ignatian prayer are great ways for me to pray. However, I have tried other ways of praying and meditation.  I really have tried, and tried hard. But, I just can’t allow myself, turn myself over to dream, because thereby leads to frustration and sorrow and disgruntlement.

Dear Lord, I do not think You want me to be disgruntled when I’m coming before You in prayers! I think that much be the furthest things from Your mind. Thank You for letting me find out that lectio divina and Ignatian prayer are two ways of praying that can lead me into Your presence, on a reliable basis. Gracious God, help me to be able to come before You on a regular basis. However, if I should be some change remember my dreams, help me to find some meaning in them. Just another in the dozens of ways You find to communicate with us. In the loving name of our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

[1] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 1972), 21.

Prayer. Silence. Shhh.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, May 8, 2018

open hands

Prayer. Silence. Shhh.

What a stunning viewpoint on silence. Or, should I say, Silence?

Somehow, I feel as if this word ought to be capitalized. Father Nouwen makes such telling points on silence and the modern understanding of it. This little book was written in 1972, which is well over forty years ago. Fr. Nouwen talks about the clatter, banging, and constant noise of this modern time. Boy, can I relate.

I wonder what the good Father would have to say about 2018, the modern day in the western world? With all the technological updates and social media and the myriad of different choices in the way of accessing sound and video and recording of all different kinds…   Would this audio-visual kaleidoscope of noise, this cacophony of countless visual and audible selections, cause him to shun technology even more?

I remember I did not like being alone or in silence very long, when I was a teen. It got better in my twenties and thirties. Now, I enjoy it.

Oh, Father Nouwen, you seem to run toward silence with abandon. Nonetheless, you freely admit that “for many, silence is threatening. They don’t know what to do with it.” [1] Is silence truly a disappearing art? Is silence a fearful and terrifying thing, finally in its fearsome stages of existence?

The question forty years ago Fr. Nouwen wanted answered was, have people become alienated from silence? I consider it just as fair to ask what have the majority of people become addicted to?  Beyond random noise, to videos, blogs, vlogs, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, much less regular texting and instant messaging?

Dear God, save us from ourselves. Help me—help us to see that You thrive in the various sounds of silence just as much as in loud howls and yells, conversations, noisy trumpets, cymbals, honky-tonk pianos, drum sets, wailing guitars, and all the variety of electronic sounds and other forms of audio and visual input. Gracious God, thank You that You have given humanity the insight, ability, and ingenuity to come up with all of the constant sounds. Help us to quiet our insides just as much as the outside environment can be quietened. Thank You for this profound insight Fr. Nouwen brings to me today.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 1972), 16.

A Last Word about Meditation, and Psalm 62

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, July 17, 2017

candles, votive prayer

A Last Word about Meditation, and Psalm 62

In this final word on the psalm, Dietrich Bonhoeffer did his usually excellent job. Not only did he talk about Psalm 62, but he also mentioned those who might not be enjoying close relations with God. “And then we wait and wait for years, perhaps to the end of our lives, until we once again are in the mood for religion.” [1]

How sad, and lonely for the unnamed person. As Bonhoeffer said in such a way, “We must learn the language of God, carefully learn it, work hard at it, so that we will be able to speak to Him.” [2]

Yes, it is indeed sad and lonely that a host of people are foundering in their times of prayer and meditation. And, some even do not make the attempt at communicating with God. “Why should I? I’ve tried a few times, and nothing at all happened.” Or “I am not religiously inclined.” So sad.

I have prayed to God, indeed. God and I are more of close friends than not. However, my attention can easily falter. My prayer and silence before God? “Certainly, it will be harder for one person than for another, but we may be sure that no one can advance without work. It takes daily fortitude to expose ourselves to God’s Word and to allow ourselves to be judged by it..” [3]

Wow! That sounds like prayer and meditation takes commitment, time and diligence. I must confess I do not have that commitment all the time. Forgive me, dear Lord.

Bonhoeffer closes with that wonderful quote from St. Augustine: “Lord God, you have made all things for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” We have a Friend whose ears are always open, always with arms ready to embrace all who come close.

Thank You, God, for Your love and caring. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 54.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

More about Meditation, and Psalm 62

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Psa 62 my soul in silence

More about Meditation, and Psalm 62

Dietrich Bonhoeffer preached a sermon on Psalm 62 early in his ministry, when he served as assistant pastor to a German congregation in Barcelona. He took as his text verse 1: “For God alone my soul in silence waits; from him comes my salvation.”

“To be silent does not mean to be inactive, rather it means to breathe in the will of God, to listen attentively and be ready to obey.” [1] When we are silent before God, what happens? I realize that some people—mistakenly—think that means to become completely blank and without thought. While I understand some forms of meditation involve some sort of emptying one’s mind of thoughts, I don’t think this is the kind of directed meditation and prayer that God wants us to do.

Bonhoeffer rightly goes on to say that some people grumble that only few become aware of those deep, loving, profound things that God wishes to say. God does, indeed, speak winning words to us: “I love you.” Yet, why is it that relatively few people fully realize the enormity of God’s personal love, caring and guidance in each person’s life?

“…We are so afraid of silence that we chase ourselves from one event to the next in order not to have to spend a moment alone with ourselves, in order not to have to look at ourselves in the mirror.” [2] Oh, how perceptive of Herr Pastor Dietrich! As Bonhoeffer mentions, these times are comfortless, even fruitless.

I know so well that merry-go-round of the urgent, of the necessary, of the endless to-do list. And, what about the demands of work? The voices and cries of the children, the aging parents, and the extended family? The rounds of the visits, the events, and religious obligations. I don’t have any quick fix, sadly. The extremes of becoming a martyr to all of the busy-ness or trying to set up walls of obliviousness both confront me.

Dear Lord, preserve me from all such clutter in my head and heart. Lead me to come before You in spirit and in truth, seeking after Your presence, Your silence. And then, may I seek after Your will in my thoughts, words and life. Please, God, may it be so.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 49.

[2] Ibid, 50.

A Sermon, Meditation, and Psalm 62

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, July 7, 2017

Psa 62 word cloud

A Sermon, Meditation, and Psalm 62

Have you ever wondered about young pastors—or ministers? Still in training, some pastors need time to practice their craft. In some churches (and seminaries), a pastor-in-training is called an intern, or student pastor. The typical job of a pastor is multi-faceted, and a person sometimes is not fully skilled at every aspect of the pastorate until some years have passed.

Just so with Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer held a position as a pastor-in-training for a number of months. While serving as assistant pastor at a German-speaking church in Barcelona, he preached this particular sermon on Psalm 62. The psalmist in verse 1 calls for a time of silence before prayer and meditation: “For God alone my soul in silence waits; from him comes my salvation.” And Bonhoeffer paraphrases: “Teach us something about the silence of the soul, the soul that waits for God.” [1]

Sure, Bonhoeffer had definite ideas about meditation and how much scripture means to be practicing both prayer and meditation. “Being silent means unable to say anything more; it means that a strange but dear hand has placed itself upon our lips to make us be still; it means giving ourselves totally—capitulating to the overwhelming power of the Other.” [2]

Even at this early date in Bonhoeffer’s ministry, this sermon shows how an assembly of men and women can be ready for in depth learning. “To be silent does not mean to be inactive, rather it means to breathe in the will of God, to listen attentively, and be ready to obey.” [3]

Dear Lord, help me to be attentive to Your voice. We want to go a long way with You today. Help me to sit with You, walk with You, and follow in the way You want me to walk. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 48.

[2] Ibid, 49.

[3] Ibid.

Difficulty with Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 8, 2017

sitting in pew

Difficulty with Meditation

I have difficulty with meditation sometimes. I can relate to these seminarians. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

We need to turn our attention to the Confessing Church, representatives from a number of German churches who left the national church in 1934. (The national church was following Hitler’s agenda, increasingly, throughout the 1930’s.) The leadership of the Confessing Church sent for Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1935; he was in London at the time. The Confessing Church established a breakaway, Confessing seminary in Finkenwalde. [1]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer expected the seminarians to “devote a half-hour each morning to silent meditation on a Scripture text.” [2] This practice caused them great consternation and difficulties. They could not figure out how to make use of the time.

As I said, I can relate. It is sometimes difficult for me to meditate and pray for an extended period, at normal and usual times. I would consider half-hour stretches of time to be a longer amount of time.

The seminarians did a variety of things instead of meditation. Some would sleep, others daydreamed, still others worked on sermons, instead of meditating and praying. Bonhoeffer offered them a number of instructions on meditation and prayer, since he thought meditation was so important to seminarians as well as pastors. (I’ll include some of his suggestions for meditation and prayer here over the next number of days.)

Dear God, I know I ought to meditate on your words regularly. When I do, I almost always feel energized, sometimes relaxed, and never, ever bored. Restore to me the joy of salvation, the love of learning, the excitement of poring over the Scriptures. In Jesus’s name, the Word made flesh, Amen.

 

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 21.

[2] Ibid, 22.

Solitude, Silence, and Paul Tournier

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, March 28, 2017

still-waters-sunrise

Solitude, Silence, and Paul Tournier

Have I mentioned before about how fascinating this collection of writings was? This excerpt, especially so. Dr. Paul Tournier was a doctor, psychoanalyst, and intensely spiritual man, who lived and worked in Geneva, Switzerland. He was interviewed in 1984, and his remarks were truly exceptional, simple, and profound.

I sense that Dr. Tournier was an intensely private person. (Yes, I did read one of his books, years ago, but I can’t remember for the life of me which one it was.) His responses were personal. I can tell that he was making himself available for all of us younger believers in God.

For example, the interviewer asked him to define silence. His answer: “For me, above all it is a waiting. I wait for God to stimulate my thoughts sufficiently to renew me, to make me creative instead of being what St. Paul calls ‘a tinkling cymbal.’” [1]

I see Dr. Tournier (in my mind’s eye) as sitting quietly, calmly, unflappable. I am not sure whether that is correct, but that is what I sense: “Under psychoanalysis, there is a moment when the subject feels silence weighing on him terribly. He longs for the doctor to say something to him. Silence has the power to force you to dig deep inside yourself.” [2]

Regularly, every day, Dr. Tournier meditated and prayed. That is impressive, no matter who accomplishes it. Thank you, doctor, for your understanding, for your patience, and for your silence. Truly, a gift.

 

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er.

 

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 161.

 

[2] Ibid.