The (fictional) letter below came to me last week in the beautiful book, "Island of the World", by Michael O'Brien. It speaks for my heart today.
One of my friends regularly sends snippets like this in her letters, letting other people's words add to our conversations. Finding her discoveries tucked into an envelope is something I really look forward to.
Next week I'll be taking my regular sabbath. (Wise Katherine wrote about her regular silent breaks here.) I know it's time to stop talking and start listening because I find sharp words at the edge of my mouth and a tightness in my skin as if I have been stretched across too many expectations. I can sense that words are waiting to betray, to slip their bonds and reveal some hidden part of me that is yet untamed. With this week, I set a watch.
I'll see you in a few days.
"For most of my life, I have been a very quiet person - nearly wordless except on paper - and that too has not been great in volume. As I become older (and older and older), it seems to me that a messenger is in his words, if the messenger is truly himself. His life is his primary word, and his spoken words bear his life. He learns to be this when he has discovered that a man can give to others only what he truly is. [...]
Here is a prayer/counsel that I wrote for my own eyes...I try to live by this instruction myself:
Seek nothing for yourself.
Stand ready to serve
sacrificing and praying without
This silence before God and man is the presence of being. Such silence speaks! Then when one's spoken words flow, they come from the true heart of one's unique identity. An identity that only the Father in Heaven knows, for it is hidden even from our own eyes.
Here is an old, anonymous Latin poem I love so much:
Pauper sum ego.
Cor meum dabo.
(I am a poor man.
Nothing do I have.
I will give you my heart.)
much love to each of you,