Reflection Masthead
Issue 136 - Stillness - April 2016

Join Our Mailing List

Laird Video

Martin Laird on Contempation
Martin Laird on Contempation:

"Out of silence something is born that leads to silence itself"


Our thanks to all who have recently contributed to help cover the costs of producing and sending Soul Windows - Reflection. Since the last issue, we have received contributions from:
  • Theresians International
May God bless you richly for your generous support!
Soul Windows Logo

Past Issues


2-Creating Sacred Space

3-Leaving Footprints


5-Ordered Life

76-Vanier Visit

87-Wondrous Fear, Holy Awe

91-Crater Lake


101-On Reflections 

102-Morning Moments

108-NBA Championship

110-On Freedom 

112 Robin Williams 


116-Kentucky Epiphany 

119-Christmas Mystery  


121-Radical Amazement 

122-St.John's Bible 

124-Botanical Garden 

126-Call of the King 

127-Living Our Stories 

128-Pope Francis 

129-Saint Francis 


131-The Way of Peace  

132-Danube Reflections  

133-Want Happiness? 

134-Our Uncertain Certainties  135-Corita Kent  

Link to all past issues     


Criterion for the Value of Everything
          Martin Laird, in his Introduction to A Sunlit Absence, writes that "Though this grounding union 'in which we live and move and have our being'" (Acts 17:28) is unshakable, one of the characteristics of the human condition is that we spend many decades of our lives in sheer ignorance of this."*
          After a luncheon at our house Wednesday with three of my friends, one stayed for a while in a one-to-one conversation. She was asking about "hearing" God in prayer and how she might expand her awareness. My friend was seeking the stillness, the "one big thing" - the grounding union between God and the human person.
          Martin Laird's Into the Silent Land and A Sunlit Absence are guides to awareness of internal noise and how to deal with the distractions during contemplative prayer. We shouldn't underestimate the "inebriation" of our entertainment industry, the media, and global madness. The more we are able to declutter our minds, the easier it is to gain insight into the Presence of God within.
          Following a year of downsizing and decluttering my personal belongings, I find great freedom now in doing the same with my social and professional life so that there is more time for stillness and contemplative prayer. More and more I agree with Evagrius who said, "Be like an astute business man: make stillness be your criterion for testing the value of everything, and choose always what contributes to it."** Some days I just lean on the kitchen counter and gaze at the beauty and stillness of my African Violet, a recent unexpected gift from a longtime friend. 

*Martin Laird, A Sunlit Absence: Silence, Awareness, and Contemplation, New York: Oxford, 2011. p.2.
**Ibid, 8.
The Conversation Starts
I talk on the phone.  I talk on the phone a lot.
I work for an insurance company, taking calls as people report auto accidents, or call in to add a vehicle to their policy.  Call after call, 10 hours a day, four days a week.
I work in a call center with nearly 200 other representatives. Even when I am not on a call, I can overhear several conversations, sometimes dozens of conversation, taking place in the cubicles around me.
Often, it is even noisier on the other end of the line. Sometimes, people call from the scene of the accident, and while talking to me are also talking to family members, or police, or tow truck drivers.  Speaker phones pick up background noise. Some people call while tending a crying baby.  Others call while they are in the drive-thru at a restaurant, and I get to eavesdrop on their order.
It is said that there is no music without the silence between the notes. I can testify that there is no conversation - or at least, very poor conversation - without sufficient silence.
Many of us spend our lives with one or more electronic devices constantly on. Political rallies and sports arenas are filled with noise - and exhortations to get even louder.
None of this is bad. But, where, amid all this noise, are we able to hear the "sound of sheer silence" (1 Kings 19:12; NRSV) in which the voice of God is heard?
"Be still," Psalm 46 encourages us.  "Be still, and know that I am God."
The conversation starts by being still.
We appreciate your loyal readership and kind words of gratitude for the  Soul Windows - Reflection newsletter. We kindly ask that you support our ministry financially as well. Online contributions can be made through the  PayPal link below (even if you don't have a PayPal account). Just follow the link and enter a dollar amount in the "Item price" box under "Make a donation." You also may make a donation by mailing a check to the address at the bottom of this newsletter.

        Thank you.
Please share Reflection freely by forwarding any issue (click "Forward email" below), but remember to respect copyright laws by not altering, copying, or reproducing Reflection, whole or in part, without written permission.
Copyright (c) 2016 Soul Windows Ministries

Sincerely,  Bill Howden & Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries