In the Swiss village of Cademario, I stumbled upon a tiny convent hidden off the road behind a rusted iron and stone fence. There I met Elizabetta, a young nun who had recently taken her final vows of commitment. Separated by wooden bars we spoke about silence and prayer. She spent hours praying – while tending the blueberry bushes and the vegetable patch, while washing the floors and baking bread for dinner. I believe that her prayers and the prayers of her sisters for the world, for our peace and harmony, make a difference. Through her silent contemplation and the elevation of her thoughts, through her Latin songs she makes a contribution to humanity that is perhaps more enduring and beneficial than those who have fleeting moments of fame and make a great deal of noise about their greatness. It is those who dare to be silent and take that silence into the world that can transform it through their presence.
There is something divine in the quiet. This weekend with Jean Houston, Joan Borysenko and Bonnie Myotai Sensei Treace at the Sophia Institute, the larger-than-life Jean, introduced a discovery game. In an intimate room of about fifty people, we closed our eyes. Jean designated one person as “God” and only that person knew who she was. Our mission was to grope around in the dark and ask each person we touched, “Are you God?” And they asked in return, “Are you God?” Once we found God we fell silent. In the space of less than two minutes, the entire room became enveloped in a joyous stillness. This is a wonderful metaphor for the turning of the world and a motivation to practice silence. If one dares to carry the silent presence, it will move in delightful contagion to others until we all make this powerful discovery.
I highly recommend the Sophia Institute in Charleston, SC. Founder, Carolyn Rivers, orchestrated the Wisdom Gathering with these three brilliant, dynamic women and offered a spontaneous and yet tightly interwoven discovery of the mythic life and the power of symbols. Carolyn is making space to nurture the creative feminine through her ambitious programs and kind heart.