Quiet Disquiet

Photo by Joe Grant © 2020


Early in the morning, while still quite dark,
he got up, left for a quiet place, and prayed there.

Mark 1:35

{Concerning this critical time.
No-one is
immune to suffering.

As we wake up to the awareness that,
whether we like it or not, we are on a painful journey together,
isolation and distancing can feel like cruel medicine.

Yet, our collective suffering
can be a crucible of transformation
where social confinement becomes gestational.

For in the quiet disquiet
we can also make space to welcome a worried world
where so many suffer with us.

It is within disquiet, devoid of solution,
that resolution can coalesce,
born of suffering shared.}

Seeker,
Do you know you are loved? How do you know?

As ceaseless waves and booming surf,
while filled with agitation,
can also calm our anxious thoughts, our fussing and frustration,

so, even in our trying times,
when fraught with troubled task;
we still might find tranquility and in the quiet bask.

If we will be quiet and ready enough,
we shall find compensation in every disappointment.
Henry David Thoreau

We often speak
of background noise,
but fail to notice ambient quiet.

For every stirring sound or commotion
comes gift-wrapped;
soaked in all-surrounding silence.

In silence God ceases to be an object
and becomes an experience.
Thomas Merton

More than lack of noise,
pervasive sound-less-ness is the vehicle
for every breathed or bellowed expression.

Nor is such stillness
determined by or limited to
immediate surroundings.

Quiet is, more precisely, a disposition;
a state of mind and heart; a way of being;
a presence as much as a place.

No matter
where we locate our lives,
it is possible, though not always easy,

to welcome
silence amid clamor, stillness in agitation
and solitude in a throng.

How we present ourselves—
awake or unavailable– shapes how we perceive
and participate in the real.

Lead us from the unreal into the real. Upanishads

There is quiet within disquiet, and vice versa.
And the singular precondition for stillness is desire;
a readiness to attend it.

No amount of recitation and ritual
can draw us into quiet disquiet,
unless we are willing to be led.

Quiet presence opens minds,
readies hearts to receive, and makes accessible
love in the pause that punctuates each breath.

Love is the Holy One,
so any who reside in love
abide in the Holy One,
who likewise abides in them.

1 John 4:16

It is apt to speak
of “falling silent” as in letting go,
sinking or surrendering.

So vast, that dark noiseless blanket
we call “space,”
in which every vibration is carried, absorbed, dissipated.

Yet, falling into this quiet obscurity
we are re-minded of the whispered secret
that breathes us into being:

“You are beloved.
And so too everything in the arc
of compassion’s radiance is loved into being.”

The words of the prophets
Are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whisper’d in the sounds of silence.

Paul Simon

We cannot erase disquiet.
The struggles and sorrows of living
are not background noise.

Love is also a verb;
momentum to disturb complacency
with passion that pains, burning as it heals.

Those aches, hopes, hurts—
gritty and global—
are not a side-show we can ignore.

So, drawn into quietude,
with heart attuned to that spot beyond thought
and the reach of answers,

may you listen through the clash of events
to the resonance beyond the strike,
and heed its silent plea:

Wherever disturbance, seek the still-point.
Wherever peace, look also for disquiet.
Wherever distress, make space for compassion.

joe

Find me on Facebook and Instagram@InTheStormStill
Visit my website: inthestormstill.com
A new book by Joe Grant:
https://shop.franciscanmedia.org/products/wandering-and-welcome-meditations-for-finding-peace


The Pace of Peace

Picture by Joe Grant © 2019

I leave peace with you; I give my peace to you.
Not as the world gives it. Let not your hearts be troubled and afraid.
John 14:27

Seeker,
What will it take to slow you down?

When walking the woods,
nothing in Nature
urges me to move faster.

Should you walk into Life,
sauntering so your soul catches up,
your stroll becomes a pilgrimage.

Embracing “pilgrim-hood”,
every sign is received
as a message from the “Wholly Present One”.

A neighborhood notice
at a four-way stop proclaims:
“Slow down, children at play!”

What might it take, I wonder,
for me, for you, for those who are dear,
to slow our pace for all of us children, far and near?

How can we find peace, true peace, if we forget that we are not machines for making and spending money, but spiritual beings, sons and daughters of the most high God? Thomas Merton

Deluged daily by information,
we are adrift in a swell
of contrasting and comparing:

expecting, wanting,
needing more;
better, quicker, sooner.

There is all around and within us
a cult of consumption, a climate of competition,
a craving for accomplishment.

The continued acceleration of changes affecting humanity and the planet is coupled today with a more intensified pace of life and work which might be called “rapidification”…the speed with which human activity has developed contrasts with the naturally slow pace of biological evolution. Pope Francis

How might we show,
by spacious pace and living slow,
that every creature merits our attentive care?

Amid the fear-fueled,
anxious urgency of this age,
could the way to peace begin by slowing everything down?

Slower and lower, where less is more:
might just light the way
through earth’s dark night.

Peace is not the product of terror or fear.
Peace is not the silence of cemeteries.
Peace is not the silent result of violent repression.
Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all
to the good of all.
Oscar Romero

Imagine relationship
valued over achievement,
and caring holding sway over competing.

What if contemplating
overruled calculating,
and love won over everything.

For surrender, not vindication, is the way to reconciliation,
and peace is the fruit of a willingness
to compassionately dissolve distance.

It is so easy to simply get too busy to grow. It is so easy to commit ourselves to this century’s demand for product and action until the product consumes us and the actions exhaust us and we can no longer even remember why we set out to do them in the first place. Joan Chittister

Much more
than the halting of hostility
or the absence of aggression,

peace is gradually cultivated
through the prevalence of pardon,
ripened by courageous reconciling.

The slower you walk and the lower you live,
the more will you safeguard God’s children today,
who simply wish to wonder and hope to play,

So, let the leaves drop,
and as you watch them fall away,
may they slowly undo the doings of your day.

joe
Find me on Facebook and Instagram: @InTheStormStill

Coming in November 2019, A New Book by Joe Grant

Wandering and Welcome: Meditations for Finding Peace Pre-Order Set For Release On 11/12/2019 12:00:00 AM

To Order: https://shop.franciscanmedia.org/products/wandering-and-welcome-meditations-for-finding-peace

Disturbing Peace

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44

Seeker,
How do you encounter peace in these disturbing days?

At the beginning of beginnings,
before there was anything
but depth of darkness,

Spirit hovered
over the face of the deep
to disturb the waters.

Thus, paradox was born
in the rippling Holy Breath of life:
Disturbing Peace.

And that initial exhalation,
first creative sound—shalom, salaam, peace—
breathed everything into being.

Each subsequent sacred encounter
was premised by a calming invitation:
“Peace, do not be afraid!”

… he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ John 20:22

So, we catch our breath
to welcome peace into troubled minds.
and with each deep draw, invite peace of heart.

Now unencumbered,
we become available to the embrace of Shalom—
peace not sourced in us, that offers rest for the soul.

I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief
. Wendell Berry

In its fullest sense,
the deeper peace for which we ache,
describes a wholeness wider than the cessation of conflict or confusion.

Such shalom is the expression
of our innermost desire for completeness,
uncovered in the righting of our relationships with life.

The impeded stream is the one that sings. Wendell Berry

Holy Peace has yet another dimension.
It can appear, be extended and shared, in times of distress.
When most needed, it is drawn out of us.

Consider a time of trauma:
when hard news breaks over you; difficult decisions must be made;
loved ones leave; life’s end looms.

Shalom is also the unexpected consolation amid desolation;
serenity in turmoil; calm in the eye of the storm;
peace that breaks out in broken-openness.

When it was evening on the first day of the week, and the doors were locked for fear of the authorities, Jesus came in, stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he showed them his hands and his side. John 20:19-20

Like a fresh breeze, Christ breaks through
to blow our minds,
and baring his wounds, bestows a renewing Spirit.

We address distress—
inner turbulence as well as outer troubles—
by invoking the life-breath of a new creation.

Jesus promised disturbing peace—
not bolstered by systems of power or security—
stillness rooted in the Presence of providence and mercy.

The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else. Abraham Heschel

Christ-peace becomes
the embodiment of nonviolence;
with all mind, heart, soul and strength.

Followers of Jesus are committed
to the wounded Christ,
who breaks into our midst to disturb us from complacency.

And shalom involves a willingness
boldly to bear
the costly consequences of nonviolent living.

Breathe through us Breath of Life,
Your peace makes us new,
so we can love as you would love
our friends and enemies too!

joe
Find me on Facebook and Instagram: @InTheStormStill