The River in All Its Fall Glory

It is a brilliant day, and I begin it by teaching my beautiful garden of yoginis who rise the the occasion of challenging backbends with grace and enthusiasm.

I finish class and dash out to the river. The sky is a brilliant blue with hardly a cloud in it, and the temperatures have climbed enough for me to put on a tee shirt and crocks. I arrive at the boat launch and take in the broad expanse and the stillness of the waters. The trees on the river banks are perfectly reflected on its surface, for the first time, in almost a year. A few minutes later, Grace and I are paddling up the river...

I can see all the way to the bottom - rich details of the underlying terrain revealing itself. It has been hidden from me since about this time last fall. I paddle upstream and find one lone heron who seems totally unmoved and undisturbed by my presence. I pass him again when I float downstream and he seems not have to have moved one iota from his meditative stance...

It is largely quiet on the river, and I think of the book I have been re-reading, after nearly 30 years - Poustinia: Encountering God in Silence, Solitude and Prayer, by Catherine de Hueck Doherty. Having recently read her letters to Thomas Merton, sparked a renewed interest in her writings.

I was drawn to silence and solitude all of my life, and was able to have a bit of it in my twenties, before I had my son and life got generally busier. It is very interesting to compare my experience of where I was then - and where I am now - more than a generation later...

As I read deep into the night, I underlined sentences and phrases that spoke to me, knowing that I will share them with my Twitter and Facebook community:

"Silence, Solitude, and deserts...are vitally important to our growing, changing, technological, urban civilization...

True silence is the search of man for God.

True silence is a suspension bridge that a soul in love with God builds to cross the dark, frightening gullies of its own mind, the strange chasm of temptation, the depthless precipices of its own fears that impede its way to God.

True silence is the speech of lovers. For only love knows its beauty, completeness, and utter joy.

True silence is a garden enclosed, where alone the soul can meet its God. It is a sealed fountain that he alone can unseal to slacken the soul's infinite thirst for him.

True silence is a key to the immense and flaming heart of God. It is the beginning of a divine courtship that will end only in the immense, creative, fruitful, loving silence of final union with the Beloved.

Yes, such silence is holy, a prayer beyond all prayers. True silence leads to the final prayer of the constant presence of God...

This silence, then, will break forth in a charity that overflows in the service of the neighbor without counting the cost...Hospitality will be deep and real, for a silent heart is a loving heart, and a loving heart is a hospice to the world..."

There is much more to reflect on and ponder in this beautiful gem of a book...This river is that place of solitude and silence in my heart. It invites me to journey more deeply inside. As I paddle back, I realize that my heart and soul are well - and I take what this river so selflessly offers me - back into my life, and into the lives of all those who come into mine as well...


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