We greet you in anticipation of a turn towards silence this Sunday. Vessie wrote you this account of a recent walk she took. As each one of you finds your own way of practice on this Day of Silence, we invite you to spend a few minutes on your own 'walk of silence' - whether this be in nature, along a seacoast or mindfully in a urban setting. Together we bless this earth by walking with awareness.
May we ground on the sacred earth, come home to the strength and wholeness in our very core, and put our arms around escalating disturbance far and wide. This community matters.
Vessie, Peri and Barbara
The Way of Silence
My footsteps echoed along the old cobbled path. The firm and tranquil stones under my feet, laid centuries ago, evoked a sense of the long-standing ages, when time had a slow and noble pace.
Stones inhabit a different chronology than people.
I was taking a walk through the monastery of San Giulio on a small island on Lake D’Orta, in Italy. Legend tells us that Saint Giulio stepped onto these shores in the second half of the 4th century and was moved to build a sanctuary. People tried to dissuade him because the place carried an ill and gloomy atmosphere. Thorny bushes, snakes and beasts made the island inaccessible. But San Giulio was determined to follow his instincts. He threw his cape onto the water like a raft, stepped onto it and floated to the island, using his rod as a rudder. When he reached the small island, the bushes parted before him; the snakes and beasts cleared the way for the saint. He began to build his temple.
I tread slowly down the cobbled path winding around the island and through the monastery. This path was called The Way of Silence. I walked it in ritual silence.
All along the road were beautiful old plates telling strangers various things about silence.
“Listen to the silence.”
“Silence is the peace of oneself.”
“In the silence you receive all.”
“In the silence you meet the Master.”
“In the silence you breathe God.”
As my eyes passed over the golden flames of the October trees and the patina of ancient edifices, I noticed the water dancing in the sunlight. DÓrta Lake is fed by the Nigoglia, the only river that runs “upwards” towards the Alps, contrary to the streams flowing from the mountains to the valley.
Like birds in the sky, various thoughts flickered in my mind, challenging the strength of my own silence. I pondered how our bodies buzz in response to incessant noise invading from the outside. The devil’s mirror, broken perhaps over creation since its beginning, distorts sight and freezes our hearts. My convictions, attitudes, opinions, views, interpretations, fears and expectations are like the shards of that mirror, cracking apart my wholeness.
Looking at my fractured perceptions through the prism of silence, the cracks vanish. Silence is the lens that restores the truth.
As I walk in silence, I regain my power, dispelling the beasts and allowing the river to run upwards to the mountain.
This was told to me on the island of San Giulio.
My gaze was drawn between two buildings onto the sparkling lake. A white-red paddleboard glided by with a young man standing on it.