Space, Silence and Stillness 

We must have room to be alone,
to let our close kept thoughts run free
for what is today without time to wonder
what is tomorrow without a dream?

Growing up - from the age of 10 until leaving for college - the above inspiration, illustrated by a photo of a sunset, hung on my bedroom wall. During the impressionable years sleeping under and steeping in this message, the words became a part of me. I didn't realize that until very recently. Now, I recognize the truth of the words without a doubt. I must have time to be alone. So do you.

In a writing retreat held in Taos, New Mexico last month, among the snowcapped mountains and dry aromatic sage, we were given the opportunity to be silent (or tortured, as some of the participants felt.) The periods of scheduled silence nurtured the space for stillness, enabling thoughts to run free. Thoughts that open to wonder. Wonder that opens to dreams. Dreams that begin to manifest. My childhood poster had ignited a fire in me: the fire of writing. Writing is a practice, a meditation, a vocation, a calling, an outlet, a declaration, a communication, a blessing, a vehicle, an offering, a proclamation.

To me, silence and aloneness are sacred. It allows for the underbelly of my soul to breathe and catch fire. Without it, I stay in a familiar cycle where thoughts and habits command my life.

Where is your room?

Your room is your space, the area of your life that is consciously devoted to your calling. It could be a physical area or location. It could be a specific opportunity in front of you waiting. It could be your individual capacity. It could be all three. As the end of the year approaches, the days get shorter and nature calls us home to our inner worlds. Find your room and explore the riches waiting to be discovered.

Your life might simply be calling you to slow down and rest. If this is you, create your room, your place to just be. Your room includes your body/your interior room (yes, of course) and your physical room. Consider this month's 5 minute try-it for silence in a space where you can be alone.

Your life might be calling you to dig even deeper to access something inside that wants to be born. Where is your room?

Your life might be calling you to dig deepest to see and develop and nurture a new capacity that will serve you now and next in life. Where is your room?

You must have room to be alone so that your thoughts can run free. There you will access your wonder. There you will find your dream.

Authentic wealth wants space

I've written extensively about authentic wealth - wealth being much more than money - so I won't repeat myself describing the myriad ways wealth manifests in life. Instead, I want to point to the need for space when developing your relationship to wealth and to money practices. Again, as the end of the year approaches and you recognize familiar patterns of financial frenzy in practical areas like holiday spending, charitable decisions, vacations, end-of-year tax planning, and money to-do's - find your room and get silent, be still. Allow the frenzy to emerge in spacious awareness. Allow the frenzy to soften and drop. Then begin to see what is underneath. Ask thoughtful questions that bring you down into your belly to what is most important.

Let your close-kept money thoughts run free.
Give time to money wonder.
Allow your money destiny to be led by a dream.

Silent, still and spacious,
Be Moved...

From David Whyte's Readers' Circle
and in the spirit of our gift giving season, I offer:


is an art, an essence of existence, and a test of our character; it asks deep questions about our relationship to others, to ourselves and to time itself. To give well, appropriately and often is to establish a beautiful symmetry between the urgency within us that wishes to be generous and the part of the world that is surprised and happy to receive. To give generously but appropriately and then, most difficult of all, and as the full apotheosis of the art, spontaneously, has always been recognized as one of the greatest of human qualities.

Giving is not done easily, giving is difficult; giving well is in fact a discipline that must be practiced and observed over years to be done properly; it means getting beyond the boundaries of our own needs, it means understanding another and another's life, it acknowledges implicitly that we ourselves must be recipients of things we cannot often identify or even find ourselves. Giving has an enormous horizon and a breadth that is hard to compass: it is both a practicality, creating bonds and dependencies necessary to our communal well-being, and an essentiality, the essence of giving being that the other person is simply alive and not only a privilege to know but a living privilege themselves, with the astonishing ability to acknowledge something given to them. As far as we know, no other corner of creation but a human being has the ability to fully acknowledge the spirit of another in this way.

Giving means paying attention and creating imaginative contact with the one to whom we are giving, it is a form of attention itself, a way of acknowledging and giving thanks for lives other than our own. The first step in giving may be to create a budget, to make a list or to browse a storefront but the essential deed is done through the door of contemplation: of the person, the charity, the cause, finding the essence of the need, the person or the relationship. Out of this image comes the surprise of understanding and the ability again to surprise the recipient by showing that someone else understands them and the particular conversation of life they are involved with, and, perhaps can even identify needs they cannot see themselves. The full genius of gift giving is found when we give what a person does not fully feel they deserve, but that does not overstretch the point, it is the appropriate but surprising next step in their lives. It disarms and moves and empowers all at once while gratifying the one who gives beyond most everyday satisfactions.

To give is to make an imaginative journey and put oneself in the body, the mind and the anticipation of another. To give is to make our own identities more real in the world by committing to something specific in the other person and something tangible that could represent that quality. To give is also to carry out the difficult task of putting something of our own essence in what we have given. The perfect gift may be tiny and inexpensive, but accompanied by a note that moves the recipient; it can be enormous, extravagant and jaw dropping as an act of flamboyance and devil-may-care love, but to give appropriately always involves a tiny act of courage, a step of coming to meet, of saying I see you, and often an implicit promise for the future. Little wonder then that the holiday giving that is none of these, that is automatic, chore-based, walking round the mall-based, is exhausting, debilitating, and can even be subtly insulting to the one whom we eventually give the random item.

Better to be surprised in our armchairs in long silent contemplation of those we want to gift, looking for the imaginative doorway that says I know you and see you and give thanks for you, which may bring us to the perfect object but also may bring us instead to write the short heartfelt message that acknowledges their place in our lives - remembering always that this is rarely appropriate with children.

But all of this thought and contemplation by the giver takes time, so that we realize our ability to give properly is often a result of our relationship with time itself. Any invitation into the true holiday spirit, involves a sense of ease and a nourishing spaciousness, a journey into the Silent Night that the carols of Christianity and the candles of Hanukah and the simple agnostic darkness of winter have represented for generations. The need to give is also the need to enter another state from which the best giving comes. So that when we are asked, as we sit quietly in our armchairs contemplating those whom we love and admire -when we are confronted with- "What are you doing when there is so much to be done?" we can reply that we are actually right in the middle of our holiday shopping and shouldn't be disturbed. Taking this essence into our actual shopping gives us the possibility of recognition when we see the perfect thing, or saves us the trouble of the task when there is nothing to be bought that can meet the requirement.

Clich�s are clich�s often because they are so stubbornly true, it is the thought that counts, but even more it is the imagination of another that counts, made tangible through gifts that find their definition through being twice blessed.