Friday, May 28, 2010

Links to other sites for those in solitude.

Here are some places we might find companionship with others on the journey. These are courtesy of my friend Bishop John/Ionnes in South Africa. +John is a hermit whose Trinity Priory serves many seeking help. He is compassionate and wise man who has been my online friend for a little over five years. +John is a great admirer of the Carthusian way. He maintains an online Yahoo Group called Monasterion that has collected a significant number of vowed religious from both Eastern and Western Christian traditions.

Signing up is fairly easy. Simply go to and apply for an email address. When you have it, go to Groups and enter Monasterion in the request box. If you like what you see, send an inquiry to Bishop John who will add your address to the list. There is much wisdom there. John spends a lot of time making sure the Group is worth the effort.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Received "Raven's Bread" today and some emails.

I encourage the posting of comments. That's what Silentium Altum is for. It is a living record of vital experience and deep faith. Because it's public, I'll do my best to ride herd on the contents in an effort to hold space as sacred.

In the printed newsletter I noticed that some readers are making their written work available. What a wonderful way to share this journey! Please keep us all informed. If you have a website or Facebook account and feel comfortable sharing those addresses, post a comment and let us know about it.

In order to post you will need to create an account that Google will recognize. I didn't find the process too difficult to follow.

Thanks to those who are responding to this effort. . .

Working with this space is a developing discipline for me. But I'm apprehensive also. The cyberworld is a virtual reality far removed from my experience. It's an invention of culture meant to keep me busy so that my real spiritual work of emptiness never gets done. At least, that's how I experience it. The endless "weapons of mass distraction" are meant keep my body busy so that my attention is hijacked. I could spend all day doing research on this machine? But I'm not here to live someone else's ideas any longer. That's not what Solitude offers me.

Where did all these TV sets come from in public places? Who is playing all the recorded saxophone music in the stores and restaurants? I have to breathe with careful attention just to stay in my body and not be overwhelmed by all the stimulation.

Socrates said something about the distraction of handwriting. He saw it as an enemy of oral presentation. I got an email from a friend this week talking about how college students using laptops were at least four degrees removed from anything real. It's virtual, invented, made up. They sit in a classroom but parts of themselves and their attention are somewhere else. And I wonder where they really are. I see only their physical forms. And here am I in all of this? How can I keep from raging pointlessly?

Handwriting is still my tool for most things - with fountain pens that I have to fill myself out of an ink bottle. I'm stickin' with this because it invites me to stop and pay attention to an act that is essentially meaningless. It's part of my preparation for something else. The act of journal writing is part of my spiritual practice -- 3,000 words a day. I've been doing it since 1983. I breathe, light a candle, give thanks as best I can (something I learned from a Jewish prayer book) and try to show up "here" -- wherever that is on any given day or in any given moment. Just listening deeply is still so difficult for me. It's taken years to stop all the doing. And the Holy Silence awaits my attention. I need receive the gift.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Appreciate those of you who tuned in. . .

I'm hoping more readers of the Raven's Bread newsletter will be joining us shortly.

Maybe a living network will grow from this for those of us whose spiritual life leads us to a place of Solitude. I capitalize Solitude because for me it represents a sacred capacity. There is nothing negative there. It's a quality beyond mere words and ideas. It is a beyond that is beyond.

The din of culture annoys me with its lies and attempts to create a virtual reality that is unsustainable. My life depends on practices which encourage the soul's refuge in Silence.

Right now I'm in a hotel in Amish country near Lancaster, PA. Ann and I started taking short driving trips in spring and fall a couple of years ago to get on ground level again after years of flying. There's so much we've missed being captives to the competitive driving of interstate traffic.

Outside I can see a hitch of six Belgian draft horses pulling a "honey wagon" full of fertilizer over the fields. The driver is young and skillful and vulnerable to accident and I doubt he can outrun the smell of what he's delivering. This not "big farming" where the activity is all motorized and the tractor is air conditioned and fitted out with a TV to keep the driver busy and conveniently away from his work.

There's an incredible integrity to what the Amish driver represents for me. He works in Silence among powerful forces that could conceivably kill him if he doesn't pay attention in the here and now. Farm machinery can be dangerous. I grew up in rural America and learned from it. I know who this driver is and what he's doing.

I pray for his safety and attention in this moment and give thanks for his spiritual work so tied to the earth.