Monday, January 5, 2015

"the quiet sanctuary…."

"no one
dared disturb
the sound of silence..."

Today, I discovered this haunting rendition of Simon & Garfunkel's, "Sound of Silence," by Emiliana Torrini. There is something raw and lovely about it. It seems to speak to my inner most longings.

And it fit perfectly in the context of this scripture:

with your own heart
upon your bed, and be still…"
It took my breath away. I'd read this Psalm countless times before, but this morning it felt like everything.

And to discover that it was followed by Mary Baker Eddy's statement from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

"In the quiet sanctuary
of earnest longings,
we must deny sin
and please God's allness…"
made me weep.  I felt known, understood, encouraged.

One dictionary gives the etymological root of the word sin as "to sunder." For me, to sunder, or to separate our sense of anyone -- or anything -- from it's divine source is to believe in sin.  On the other hand, to see the all-presence and all-power of God in all things -- and at all times -- is to live with vision -- and with a holy purpose.

I have to admit, I spend a lot of time in "communion with my heart, upon my bed, in stillness."  A lot. Hours a day - in fact. It is where i do my best work. It is not on the phone, at a desk, or even in conversation.  And when I am in this space -- a bed, a chair, behind the wheel in a traffic jam -- becomes a holy place.  It is in this still space of a silent heart -- that I listen for God's influence on my heart and in my life.

This is where I am clearest about what is true. It is where I am rebuked by a loving Parent. It is where I am encouraged by my dearest Friend. It is where I find the courage to go forward, and the grace to stand still.

At camp each summer we celebrate our most cherished tradition, "Alone with Your Thoughts." Camp comes to a stop, and every staff member, counselor, and camper -- regardless of age -- takes an hour alone in nature. No books, no media, no cameras, no inspirational material -- just time alone with your thoughts.

It is for me, without question, the most important tradition we have at camp. It is the activity most remembered by campers. It is the activity that has one of the most lasting effects on all of us. Year, after year.

It is encourages a relationship with the divine that can only be found in that "quiet sanctuary." It reminds each of us that wherever we are, whatever our circumstances, we can resort to this place -- this kingdom within -- to find peace, comfort, direction, encouragement, joy. On a mountaintop or in the depths of despair -- we can find refuge in this stillness.

This is the place of "I am…" This is the space where we find the power to bless. This is where we are one with all creation.  This is where we share a common inner landscape, one which we all must navigate.

Deepening my relationship to this space is the most valuable gift I can give to myself, my family, and my world. When I think of Cap and Marianne Andrews' greatest contribution to the world, it is this nurturing of "alone with your thoughts," in girls and boys, young men and women, who will go out to bless humanity.

As much as I love our horse programs, or rafting adventures, and our mountaineering expeditions -- it pales in comparison to what I see "Alone with Your Thoughts" do in the lives of campers and counselors, year after year.

Those adventures and activities are simply the laboratory for deepening one's relationship to this space of spiritual stillness.  This is the place of unlimited adventure. This is camp - no matter where we live, no matter who we are with -- it is always with us. Just as it was with the boy/king/psalmist David. Just as it companioned with Mandela in prison, and Jesus in the wilderness. It is always there for us -- at any moment.

I am so deeply grateful that - as a child - I was exposed to this practice. I am even more grateful that our children have been nurtured in a love for the importance of time "alone with your thoughts," in navigating the course of their day. To know that wherever you are, whatever decisions you must make, whatever guidance you are seeking, whatever challenges you may be facing, you have a place where you you can retreat for answers and solutions -- this, this is everything.

offered with gratitude and Love,


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