Friday, February 4, 2011

Going Forth With the Silent Places

Intimacy and isolation.

Two words I have difficulty expanding on, exploring, or explaining. Words which seem not in union but perhaps, are?

Iowa, has provided me a terrible and great isolation. It has become my desert. And I hail from the literal desert. But I have known loneliness unlike ever before in this place.

And yet, too, I have known intimacy, cultivated despite this place of barrenness or maybe because of the desolation. My husband and I married ten years, the last five here. And here was where we have needed to be. Forsaken up to only family and each other. Without the distractions of city life and even friends, this has become a residence of reconnection.

But as I have, here, swelled with two lives, so I've been stretched with silence, so uninvolved in life outside my nest, and I have realized not only the value of quiet, but the value of voice.

Last night, as I drove my six year old daughter to gymnastics, I listened to her chatter. I mean, really worked at listening. It was a story she was telling. A long one. Children love to talk. Most people love to talk. Admittedly, I found myself coming in and out of the story and its complexities, but I did attempt to stay with her for the duration. Children feel loved when they feel heard. This creates intimacy. Connectedness. All of our heart's desire.

Intimacy and isolation. I can barely speak of either. Both flush my face but I see the danger in this, too clear. I see how in the midst of isolation, abiding in the backwoods of retreat, one might well forget how to speak, lose their voice. And then, too, would intimacy withdraw. Because isolation chokes intimacy

Silence is necessary but stuck in silence we die, friendships die, marriages die.

"God has asked you and chosen you to be the carrier of that silent place within yourself."
-Catherine de Hueck Doherty from Poustinia-Christian Spirituality of the East for the Western Man

In isolation, nothing travels, and lights burn out.

"Let your light so shine before men..." Matthew 5:16

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