Sunday, August 1, 2010

more on Catholic minimalism -- listening to silence

Desert Father Story on the poverty of words:  Abba Moses lifted his hands in the air and said, “Every word about God is more of a distortion than a description!” Bewildered his students said, “But teacher, when you speak to us of God you use words!” At this Abba Moses lifted his hands again and laughed and said, “When I speak of God, listen less to the words and more to the silence between the words.” 

HT: Msr Charles Pope in Don't Just Do Something, Stand There! 

As Catholics we stand still and listen and wait to hear and see what is hidden and quiet and to find the goodness and unity in things that at first contact seem difficult and complex.   Life in a large family seems almost tailored to teach us these lessons.   I think it can be difficult when your children are all very young, or all ranging from very young to almost grown, or almost all grown, to "listen to the silences" but I think they are still there and still important to listen to.  

But for that very reason I think it can be good for a mother to divest herself of things that are unnecessary for her -- and this may legitimately differ from mother to mother.    I think the times I missed the silence between the noises were the times I was too preoccupied with MY stuff, MY agenda, MY train of thought, and not trying to free up my eyes and ears to see and listen more attentively.   Of course I always had to pay some attentions to the noises -- the big Urgent Things, the things that demand attention -- but I think it takes intentional focus to hear the silences, see the little things. 

So a lot of my focus which I've been trying to share through the past few posts is freeing up myself to do this.  It may be sounding like clutter (though I HOPE not) but the purpose is more like putting things away in their proper places so I'm not always tripping over them.   And I'm trying to focus more on the key things, the things I think are important, so that the less key things will slowly slip out of my life because Time, unlike Space, is allotted and if you portion it towards the key things then the less important things will simply be diminished and retreat by themselves. 

Anyway, that is why I think Catholic minimalism is important, and related to Catholic poverty, even though the details might differ quite a bit from home to home.

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