If you could take a snapshot of your relationship with silence today, what would it look like? Perhaps you will have just come back from visiting a city where tragedy has brought about a new quality of silence. Perhaps you are just clinging to a daily sitting practice in the midst of a very busy life. Or silence is your companion in a time of personal or professional transformation.
In this episode, we muse on what our relationship with silence looks like nowadays. Reflecting on our busy lives and how we try to maintain an intentional relationship with silence in the midst of the busy-ness, we muse on the paradox of how silence calls us back from the “mindlessness” of a life that is dulled by too much time in front of a computer screen, or too much time sitting at a desk — but as we enter into silence, we are taken to a different kind of “mindlessness,” a place of forgetting self-consciousness and letting go of ego-defined ways of thinking, seeing or being.
“If you go for a hike, which I do often to reduce stress and to recuperate and to be quiet and to enjoy the beauty, if I do that I start to notice there’s another level of consciousness that’s available to me, and that level of consciousness is tapped in through silence. … One of the things I’ve noticed is that silence is that shift in attention away from where it’s self-consciousness and all about my ego and my needs, to opening up to the wide world in front of me, and saying ‘I’m a player in this, I’m part of the trees, I’m part of the wind, I’m involved in this eco-system,’ and that I need to reconnect, that I’m not separate from the flow.” — Kevin Johnson
We round out our conversation by reflecting on some of the books we are currently reading, including poetry and even a couple of “guilty pleasure” books. Cassidy finishes our conversation with a lovely poem from the great Spanish mystics St. John of the Cross.
Some of the resources and authors mentioned in this episode:
- Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs
- St. Francis of Assisi, In His Own Words: The Essential Writings
- Mary Oliver, Devotions
- Leah Weiss, How We Work
- Kenneth Leong, The Zen Teachings of Jesus
- Amy-Jill Levine (ed.), The Jewish Annotated New Testament
- Evelyn Underhill, An Anthology of the Love of God
- George Monbiat, Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea, and Human Life
- Mary Oliver, Upstream: Selected Essays
- Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
- Amanda Lovelace, The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One
- Jim Forest, The Root of War is Fear: Thomas Merton’s Advice to Peacemakers
- Jim Forest, All is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy Day
- Jim Forest, At Play in the Lion’s Den: A Biography and Memoir of Daniel Berrigan
- Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
- Rupi Kaur, Milk and Honey
- Willis Barnstone (tr.), The Poems of St. John of the Cross
Cassidy referred to the book Carl is currently editing. It’s called An Invitation to Celtic Wisdom which will be released in November.
Episode 21: Encountering Silence in Our Busy Lives
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman, Kevin Johnson
Date Recorded: May 4, 2018