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Abbey Bookshelf: Silence & Sabbath Edition

I have been listening a lot these days.  My life feels full and rich and I am also feeling a bit gluttonous for wanting it all, not really wanting to say no to anything.  There is a playful, exuberant little girl inside of me relishing the sheer abundance of possibility.

And yet there is also my inner hermit who hears the call of spaciousness, the invitation to make sure in the coming months as my work energy shifts and continues to pick up speed, that I also have time to spend with my beloved, with my dear Abbess, with my amazing friends, and oh yes, time just to be with myself.  Time to listen for the Holy One singing in the stillness, drawing me forward with the sacred thread of my calling.

For a long time I have felt pulled between my inner hermit and the more expressive part of myself who loves to teach and discuss and be present to the world in all its wondrous possibility.  I am experiencing a shift somewhere deep down in the ground of my being — a movement toward integrating these longings.  The far wiser part of myself (another of my inner cast of characters) whispers to me, stop wrestling so much, it is all gift.  What would happen if these parts of yourself sat down together and really listened to one another?  I am eager to receive the wisdom of such a conversation.

My time at the hermitage is now over for this season.  I don’t know when I will be able to take the opportunity again, but for now I accept it as sheer gift and will be mining the insights for months to come.  A friend recommended Teaching the Dead Bird to Sing: Living the Hermit Life Within and Without by W. Paul Jones and my used copy just arrived the other day.  I opened it at random and my eyes fell onto a passage about creating a hermitage in your home, essentially a sacred space set aside for stillness.  I have such a space already but have gotten out of the habit of using it since I would wait until I was out at the cottage these last few months. I think it is time I reclaim this space at home.  I need to sit back in that chair and listen for what it has to say to me about this new season ahead.  I need to invite both parts of myself into that space to listen to one another.

The other week while at a Jewish bookstore picking up kosher wine for a Passover seder, I saw this book on the shelf titled A Day Apart: Shabbat at Home.  In addition to my love of Sabbath practice, and especially the Jewish traditions around it, the book had a beautiful cover and lots of inviting illustrated pages inside.  I recognize that claiming the sacredness of Sabbath practice is more important than ever and this book is filled with resources to help me reflect in ever more meaningful ways. My inner hermit delighted in this purchase.

Each of us is a multiplicity of selves.  We are filled with a wide spectrum of energies and passions, that can often feel conflicting.  What might happen this week if you named two or more of those “competing” energies within you and invited them all over for tea?  What might happen if you didn’t have to choose anymore, but could find a way to live deeply into the gifts of both?

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

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11 Responses

  1. Christine,
    have you read Wayne Mueller’s “Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives”? It is a wonderful book about keeping sabbath in daily thought and action. He incorporates lots of thoughts from many poets and philosophers and varying religious traditions. After each chapter is a page with a “Practice”–thoughtful and wise. My book group loved it.