Cynthia Bourgeault’s October 20th meditation “The Sound of Silence” describes priest and poet Thomas Keating’s wisdom about Centering Prayer:
“A theme that continues in all the poems contained in The Secret Embrace is that silence is not absence, but presence. It is a ‘something,’ not a nothing, It has substantiality, heft, force. You can lean into it, and it leans back. It meets you; it holds you up.”
Henri Nouwen’s Reaching Out came to mind, suggesting two movements: from noise to silence, and from emptiness to presence. Bourgeault says in silence we begin to reorient:
“…we gradually learn the shape of the new terrain….silence does indeed have depth, presence, shape, even sound. As we mature … the perception that the emptiness is in fact the presence becomes more and more palpable. Thomas Keating encourages us that this ‘sound of silence’ keeps right on growing. By his own later stage in the journey, it has become ‘thunderous.'”
Keating experienced the Creator in both the “thunderous” silence and “the dance of life itself.” From this “veiled embrace” between “pure silence and joyful creativity at the very heart of all creation,” says Bourgeault, “flows life in all its beauty, goodness, fluidity, and magical wonder.”
Tomorrow: Thomas Merton’s contribution.