Cynthia Bourgeault – An Advent Message Aspen Chapel 2009

Advent carries a mixed message.

The texts we are given for this season call for silence, vigilance, waiting, hoping, emptying. We are called to the practices of the heart making space and stillness.

Meanwhile outside there is that escalating round of activities – the parties and the potlucks, the shopping and the beginning of ski season. What are we going to do?

It is really important to do what the instructions say we are to do from the spiritual standpoint.

Karl Rahner points the way forward in his essay, “A Theology of Christmas” when he says, in this season,

We have to have the courage to be alone.

Life dissipates us. It is only as we collect our heart in the mirror of a gathered stillness that we can prevent being taken apart by the demands and the crazy expectations of this season.

The Gospel of Thomas “Logion 5”

Come to know the One in the presence before you,
and everything hidden will be revealed.
For there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed,
and nothing buried that will not be raised.
(trans. Lynn Bauman)

Robert Sardello Silence – For most of us silence is an “it”. It is something we experience as a back-drop to the content of our lives.

For others silence is an emptiness.

But silence is not an “it” and it is not nothing. Silence is a “Who”. Silence has a personal dimension. It becomes in a deep way a companionship. Silence is a presence that loves us and is with us and for us.

The silent realm is not empty. It is filled with currents of activity, subtle connecting links. In this we feel a wholeness.

When we cultivate the capacity to be alone without feeling lonely, we enter into solitude where we find ourselves anew…. Each time we venture into the realm of Silence consciously, not merely by accident, our soul is strengthened and a feeling-with-clarity emerges. When we become just a bit more alert within this realm, we discover something paradoxical. This realm of Silence is filled with currents of activity. We do not enter into loneliness or isolation but int the deepest feeling of communion…. Waves of quiet move between the silences as intertwining currents. The soul of each creature, each thing, and each being unites with these currents. (Robert Sardello, 13-16)

The silence is not emptiness. It is not just negative space. Silence has within it subtle currents that carry inter-twining meaning and presence that unite us to each other and to our own deepest hope. When we enter silence in a correct way, we find this.

Before we entered the Silence, no gentleness existed between our soul and the world, our soul and the divine, or our soul and others. We implicitly had thought the world to be harsh, filled with fear, a constant struggle. We were living in a state of disease and never recognized it. The only symptom was a constant inner longing for something, and we did not know what it was. (Sardello, 11)

When we come to perceive the one in the presence before us, simultaneously, we see that everything in life is connected in this inter-twining web which as a whole is the compassion, the mercy, the coherence of God and is the longing that we all yearn for so deeply as the fullness of our soul.