Wednesday, February 01, 2006


I regularly take our oldest dog, Challenger, for a run through the cornfields and forests which abut our property. Since my knee has been acting up over these weeks, our runs have been walks. Challenger is part hound, and I have found to my surprise that he can be very patient at times. We will walk for a while in the forest, and then he will stop dead still and wait and sniff the air. One time he stopped for 15 minutes. He was looking intently in one spot. I saw nothing. Then I heard rustling in the forest. Finally, some 200 feet away, I spotted a squirrel which was slowly making its way over to us. Challenger didn't move until the squirrel was within 5 feet of us-then he pounced. Of course, being on a leash, he come up empty.

While walking through the forest, you notice the quiet. But when you stop and listen for 10 minutes, you suddenly realize it is not so quiet. (Ever notice that the longer you look at stars, the more stars you see?) There are many noises that even your quiet walking disguises. I wonder if this is like prayer....

In our prayer, how often are we paying attention? Just like in the forest, maybe a true silence will help us hear what God is trying to tell us-if we would only listen! He is speaking, but we are too busy with our distractions-and often don't even know it. Thomas More wrote (from The Sadness of Christ):

I wish that sometime we would make a special effort, right after finishing our prayers, to run over in our minds the whole sequence of time we spent praying. What follies will we see there?...Indeed we will be amzaed that it was at all possible for our minds to dissipate themselves in such a short time among so many places at such great distance from each other, among so many different affairs, such various, such manifold, such idle pursuits.

Our late Holy Father, John Paul the Great wrote about silence in prayer in NOVO MILLENNIO INEUNTE:

...we cannot come to the fullness of contemplation of the Lord's face by our own efforts alone, but by allowing grace to take us by the hand. Only the experience of silence and prayer offers the proper setting for the growth and development of a true, faithful and consistent knowledge of that mystery which finds its culminating expression in the solemn proclamation by the Evangelist Saint John: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father" (1:14). (emphasis in original)

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!


Anonymous said...

I once found that the woods was the absolute WRONG place to go for some silence. It wasn't spring, but every cardinal in the state must have joined me for a walk that day, not to mention a whole herd of cicadas (they make that very loud buzz/click sound). It was still peaceful, as the woods always are and not the same kind of distraction that other sounds of that volume often are.

Jim Curley said...

You are so correct. When you really listen, there is a whole lot going on in the "silent" forest.