Living spiritually is about finding God, who is sometimes more elusive than we think. This may be because of what the anonymous 14th century monk called “the cloud of unknowing,” a realization that though we can know God in part, God is beyond our ability to grasp fully and thus we may need to approach God not as a project or idea, but a beautiful, personal being to contemplate, as in a painting, or piece of music.
This often calls for stillness and silence.
As Mother Teresa wrote, “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature–trees, flowers, grass–grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence . . . . We need silence to be able to touch souls.”
I have recently rediscovered this spiritual discipline of stillness and silence. For more on that click here. But what has grown and the movement I have seen in and around me in that silence has been as difficult to grasp as the clouds themselves. I have tried to better understand and then communicate the life this silence produces. And often have failed. Because not only is God hard to grasp, but the work God does in us too. The seeds of growth germinate in silence, but even as sprouts, they have a quietness to them as well. No neon signs shouting, “Look here!” This growth is a silence words falter at. And of course, as with all organic, silent, beautiful things, the evidence of their existence is slow to come.
We may be better off not knowing.
Perhaps if there were a time-lapse camera that could capture soul growth, I could see it, and describe it, and understand it. And post the picture here. But attempts to describe them, often choke and kill them.
As that ancient monk well knew, there is an unknowing that is sometimes the mysterious precursor to knowing. We cannot chase after or use cameras, or digital recorders to capture life that is spiritual. “We need silence.”
Eugene C. Scott is not often silent. He knows lots of words and likes to use them. But most of them don’t really draw him any closer to God. You can join the Living Spiritually community by following that blog and clicking here and liking the page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.