Silence of the Heart

This past week I realized that I had to get the title and registration for the new car, so I paid a visit to the BMV, where I learned that in order to change my address, I needed two pieces of mail with the new address on it.  Easy enough to obtain, but I also had other errands to run.  Later in the day, two pieces of mail in hand, I went to a different BMV to get everything legal. While talking to the young man who was serving me, the subject of drug abuse came up.  He’d asked why I would move to Fort Wayne after living in Indianapolis, and I explained that my husband and I were certified peer addictions coaches and that we had been asked by our mentor to return to Fort Wayne due to the huge heroin and methamphetamine crisis here. The young man asked me about my SMART Recovery cap that I was wearing, so I told him a bit about that.  He started to tear up and asked if he could please have my contact information because his mother was addicted to heroin and had recently overdosed again for the third time.  I gave him my card and as we shook hands at the end of our State business, he said, “Thank you, pastor, for coming back to Fort Wayne. God bless you.”

I would say that this was an unusual kind of occurrence for me, but in fact it happens rather often. The universe, or God, or whatever you want to call the Force of Love that holds us all connected, has a way of placing people in our lives who are there to bless, challenge and teach us. And vice versa.  It occurred to me as I drove home that afternoon that we spend a lot of time attempting to put the feelings in our hearts into words, to communicate our love, passions and core beliefs to others. Often we are so busy trying to translate those deep truths into language that we miss an opportunity to embrace the inner silence—probably the most profound experience the heart has to offer. Think about it: every poem or piece of creative writing arises from this silence and returns to it. When all the songs have been sung, the soliloquies delivered, the emotions expressed, the sermons given, all that remains is silence. As each wave of feeling rises and falls back into the silence, we have an opportunity to connect with the vast, open, healing wisdom at the soundless center of our hearts. This is the Christ Consciousness.

Our hearts may seem tumultuous and fractioned so much of the time that we do not even associate them with silence. It takes a sensitive ear to tune in to the silence of the heart, but it is there in each of us– so close and so expansive that we don’t even notice it. We can begin to become aware of it in the same way we become aware of the negative space in a still life, the background of a photograph, or the open sky that contains the sun, clouds, moon, and stars. We are accustomed to tuning in to objects and sounds that are solid and three-dimensional. Seeing and hearing the apparently empty space that contains these sounds and objects takes a practice.

We can bring our awareness into our hearts by simply taking a pause to breathe deeply, focusing on only the presence of Christ within. When we do this, we sometimes notice for the first time that there are feelings of joy or sadness, resentment or tenderness. There might be a deeply seated fear we are pursued by that we’re afraid to share with anyone. The key is to enter into the silence and simply listen to what the Spirit is trying to teach us in the depths of our hearts. Like the moving of Spirit over the chaos waters in Genesis Chapter One, we, too, surround these feelings with breath, recognizing that they are completely real and necessary, bound on all sides by the silence. This is the silence of the heart, and the more we listen for it, return to it, and accept it, the more we bathe and purify ourselves in the soundless center of our being, the core of the Christ Consciousness. Solid grounding in Christ, coupled with a willingness to talk about what matters to us, allows others to connect with their deepest fears and feelings.  Cultivating a receptive heart allows other hearts to recognize us and to step out in trust with whatever their heart is dealing with. It works with family and close friends.  It works with strangers.  Even at the BMV.

About frmichelrcc

I have a degree in religious studies from the University of Wisconsin, did graduate work in theology at St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin, and also at St. Paul's University in Ottawa. I have been a Benedictine since I first professed as an oblate in 1982, making final profession in 2009. I have worked as vocations director in a large diocese in the mid-west and am a spiritual director in the Benedictine tradition. I have 3 sons, one of whom is now in God's loving embrace in eternity, and 2 grandsons, Bradley and Jacob.
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