The Landscape of Divine Silence

November 21, 2021
The Landscape of Divine Silence

Chapter Talk – 33rd Sunday of the Year – November 14, 2021, cycle-B

The orientation of the apocalyptic gospel for this Sunday is toward “the complete fulfillment of the reign of God”.  Sometimes it is important to look towards the end in order to help us live in this precious present moment.  Here is what Pope Francis says about the ‘final goal’.  “Our final goal is the encounter with the Risen Lord. I would like to ask how many of you think about this. ‘There will be a day in which I meet the Lord face to face’. And this is our goal: the encounter” (Angelus, November 15, 2015).  This, the ‘final goal’, face to face with the One whom we have been, day by day growing closer to, in heart and mind, and in our very flesh.

TS Eliot begins ‘East Coker’ from Four Quartets with these words: “In my beginning is my end” (p.123).  And he ends ‘East Coker’ with this: “In my end is my beginning” (p.129)….What a profound dialectic: beginnings and ends, ends and beginnings.  This exchange flows naturally since endemic to beginnings is endings.  And then endings yield new beginnings.   This dynamic exchange is part of our human fabric…Our end is seed, rich humus for new beginnings…When a life is fully given to God, in the end it can only become seeds of life that will perdure beyond us.  The living encounter is now, and the encounter includes endings and beginnings. These present ‘encounters’ with Christ, with his Word, prepare us for the final encounter.

In the NOW encounter Eliot’s continues: “Time present and time past…At the still point of the turning world.  Neither flesh nor fleshless; Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is, But neither arrest nor movement.  And do not call it fixity, Where past and future are gathered, Neither movement from nor movement towards, Neither ascent nor decline.  Except for the point, the still point, There would be no dance, and there is only the dance” (‘Burnt Norton’, p.117, 119).   To explore Eliot’s image: what is the still point?  This to my understanding is the place of encounter where we meet and face to face God’s eternal Word….This place of encounter is where past and future commingle in the present moment…where the miracle happens of endings ushering in the new.  Only in the sheer silence where we are present and remain waiting with an open spirit…only in this posture are we ready to hope…to see…to believe…to truly ‘know’….

The “still point” of the encounter…where time past and time present gather into the new moment….All endings happen and new beginnings emerge from this still point, this landscape of Divine silence available to God to breathe forth his eternal Word.  We meet the future in the present and at the still point, where ‘hope is not hope’, until we surrender all at the still point in the living encounter with the enduring Word of God.  Dwelling at the ‘still point’ in the present moment leans us into the future…fears and anxieties recede as we descend deeper than deep into this silent space where the encounter with the Word happens almost imperceptibly.  These words from Isaiah seem apropos: “The word that goes forth from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do” (Is 55:11).  The word is always coming forth from God…we live and move and have our being in the One who is, who was, and is to come…all this we meet at the still point of Divine life.  Only at the still point do we find the ‘dance’…and as Eliot says there is only the dance, the eternal movement of ending and beginning, of dying and rising, of death and life."

 Sr. Kathy Devico, Abbess


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