June 29, 2022, 12:00 PM

“Shh… Don’t make a sound.”

 

In silence we end up nowhere – the place where God speaks to us.

Many of us are traveling this summer and going somewhere. We have places to relax, people to visit, and joys to experience. We know, all too well, that going somewhere only takes the edge off of our desires. We simply end up where we began – a headful of stories to which most people cannot relate, and images that are rapidly fading from our memory.

St. Francis in journeying somewhere found his life destroyed by the ravages of war and sickness. Finally, when he left his family, status, future fortune, and stripped off his clothes as he exited Assisi, he found the place of nowhere. He ventured forth often living in the silence in a cave.

Elijah also ventured forth to live in the silence of a cave. He fled from the wrath of Queen Jezebel after she found out that Elijah’s men had killed all of her false prophets. God spoke to Elijah and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (I Kings 19:9 -13)

God then instructed Elijah to stand on a mountain. While on the mountain, Elijah felt the wind of a violent storm, the shaking of an earthquake, and the blistering heat of a fire. But, God was not in any of those events. God was only to be found in SILENCE. We are reminded of the Psalmist words, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

If you move around or travel this summer, take notice of where you are going. Is it somewhere or are you also going nowhere? Nowhere is the home of God. Nowhere is the name of God.

So how do we find nowhere? To our surprise, nowhere cannot be found. Nowhere exists beyond our grasp and beyond our comprehension. Nowhere embraces us when we give up trying to travel somewhere. Nowhere is always with us. In our anxieties, we attempt to avoid encountering nowhere. But, nowhere sees us, loves us, anchors us in its silence.

Once we realize that nowhere is where our hearts long to be, we open ourselves to encounter the depth of all-being. We realize that God and our being are one, and have always been one – intimately connected at the hip, so to speak, as God was when wrestling with Jacob (Genesis 32:2-32).

Somewhere has always been an illusion. Somewhere always distracts us from our true being. When we die to our ambition of going somewhere (or becoming something), the illusion begins to dissipate like morning fog on a field. Only then can Christ take us and create a new somewhere with his own presence of nowhere.

Blessings on all of your travels, and remember to allow nowhere to find you.

Fr. John

Prayer never touches us as long as it remains on the surface of our lives, as long as it is nothing but one more of a thousand things that must be done. It is only when prayer becomes "the one thing necessary" that real prayer begins. Prayer begins to take on its full dimensions only when we begin to intuit that the subtle nothingness of prayer is everything.

From MERTON'S PALACE OF NOWHERE by James Finley


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