Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Marathon of Silence

This morning, in the A Course in Miracles (ACIM) Text, I found this: “Learn to be quiet in the midst of turmoil, for quietness is the end of strife and this is the journey to peace” (12.II.5.5).

It reminded me of this burning desire I’ve had for most of my adult life. Early in my twenties, I would read John of the Cross and desire the “Living Flame of Love.” I would read other mystics, from the “Cloud of Unknowing” written by an anonymous 13th century monk, to modern contemplatives like Merton and Keating. I thirsted for what they said they found in contemplation. Running this path is what God has provided for me. I am not just a runner, I am a spiritual athlete. Running the path of contemplative silence is my essence, my core, the root and ground of my being.

In 1998, out of work for a few months, I heard about a man who sat in a room for a year. I don’t know what he found there, but from him I learned the practice of sitting in silence. The moment I heard of the contemplative silence, I wanted to go and find what I could find. And in that time, I did. I had four months to myself. I could practice spirituality as much as I wanted.

I went to a monastery hoping to continue the mystic contemplative journey; but I found community within the cloister. I found a co-dependent nightmare; attempting to please the 58 other sisters and a novice director who ruled over me.

Now, being unemployed, I am again very focused on the mystic contemplative journey. Difficult to explain, the chance to make the journey into silence is mine now. I am taking it. My most desired dream is of finding God in silent contemplation.

Every marathon or ultramarathon is a journey through some type of terrain, for some outrageously long distance, challenging to body and mind. It contains aid stations and companions making the same journey. It contains doubts and times for resolve to dig down and find the strength to finish. It contains sweat, blisters, heavy breathing and painful quads. Most often, the moment of truth comes near the end. For a marathoner, the last six miles are the moment of truth. For an ultramarathoner, the moment might be during the night, after the seventy-fifth mile.

My mystic contemplative journey is a marathon of silence. Unemployed, I spend many days in my hermitage. I spend the time in silence with my spiritual companion. The journey of silence is through a landscape of thoughts. The world is an illusion. Holding my companion’s hand, I travel in forests of thoughts, clouds of thoughts, and deserts of thoughts. Along the way, I stop at aid stations and pick up nutrition: sacred scripture of my delight.

The journey of silence has the goal of peace. The path goes beyond the thoughts to an undisturbed virgin land of love. In the land of love, my consciousness is love. The land of love is our true home. We are all going home. We get there by running. We all run free and happy as we fling off our ego thoughts. Our bodies become sleek. We carry only what will take us further on our journey, losing whatever holds us back. I offer the Holy Spirit whatever I do not want.

I run through a forest of thoughts. Most of the thoughts are of fear. Amid the many fearful, angry and useless ego thoughts, here or there, I find a sacred thought, one marked especially by my Guide, the Holy Spirit. The sacred thoughts are discerned in a quiet mind.

And so I run. I run through the forest of silence, up the mystic mountain through clouds of mental demons, and burst into the sunlight of the Spirit. There I am transfigured with the truth of God.

I want the journey. I desire to find the knowledge of God or Higher Self. I want to hear the sacred thoughts of love; instead of my ego’s hate. I want to stand on the mountain top in the clear air and bright sunlight and shout “YES!” to All That Is, Joy Itself.

My ACIM lesson today is: “Let every voice but God’s be still in me.” My lesson today brings me to the tree line. Today, here and now, having stilled the ego, I step into the sunlight: God’s One Thought of Love.

Peace be with you as we run together, our hearts overflowing with the unspeakable sweetness of love.

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