In preparation for taping a special for PBS based on my new book, I had to buy shoes. Of course, I argued a good case for going barefoot or wearing my customary sandals, but I was finally persuaded by the good people in charge of the show that I really needed the generally accepted footwear this time. While complaining that my feet, like my soul, prefer freedom, off I went to the nearest shoe store in downtown San Diego. I should have known that the Universe had something in mind.
On the way back to my hotel, I saw a ragged and bedraggled man stumbling across the street. Clearly, he needed help reaching the other side safely so I went out and steered him out of traffic. He told me he was homeless and hungry. Luckily, there was a diner close by. The staff of this place recognized my new friend, Ken, and told me they had had “trouble” with him in the past. I asked our server to consider that the same God who was present in her was also present in Ken, and all of us. Ken got the meal of his choice and we talked. As Mother Teresa said: “Each day I see Jesus Christ in all his distressing disguises.” The Divine is present in everyone. Talking to Ken, I hoped he would come to see himself as God sees him. When he smiled, Ken looked a lot like you and me.
I wouldn’t have had a chance to meet Ken, if I hadn’t needed those shoes. My feet do love freedom, but even more they love walking toward the opportunities our Divine Source sends us to love one another. As the spiritual says, “All God’s children got shoes.” We’ll all get shoes someday…and our souls will soar to freedom.
‘Tis the season when we really need a moment of silence. It’s also the season when we really have to work to make sure we get one. At a time we traditionally devote to loving, giving, and gratitude, the quiet and peace we need to appreciate our gifts seems all too elusive. Try to give yourself the gift of silence now and then during the holiday hubbub so you have a chance to really enjoy the experience of celebration. It’s when you merge into the silence and become one with it that you reconnect to your Source and know the peacefulness that is God. “Be still and know that I am God,” says the Old Testament. The key words are still and know. Mother Teresa described silence and its relationship to God by saying, “God is the friend of silence. See how nature—trees, grass, grow in silence; see the stars, the moon, and the sun, how they move in silence…. We need silence to be able to touch souls.”
Everything that’s created comes out of silence. Your thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence. Your words come out of this void. Your very essence emerged from emptiness. All creativity requires some stillness. Your sense of inner peace depends on spending some of your life energy in silence to recharge your battery, remove tension and anxiety, reacquaint you with the joy of knowing God, and feel closer to all of humanity. Going into the quiet and listening will heal and inspire you. In silence, you make your personal and conscious contact with God. As Melville reminded us, “God’s one and only voice is silence.”
May the voice of silence bring you peace this holiday season.
“There should be less talk….Take a broom and clean someone’s house. That says enough.”
Mother Teresa, the diminutive spiritual giant who worked daily in the streets of Calcutta, seeing “Jesus Christ in all of his distressing disguises,” as she put it, offers us some profound wisdom in her briefly spoken advice. “There should be less talk,” there should be more action on your part. The old aphorism, “I hear, I forget; I see, I remember; I do, I understand,” applies not only to what you want to learn, but also to how you wish to be treated. Behavior is the most effective way to communicate with others. When you find yourself embroiled in the futility of words, stop and remind yourself of the great wisdom of Mother Teresa’s suggestion. Ask yourself, “What can I do here?” By all means, talk it out, but eventually you must take the broom and clean the house of another if you are truly going to be of help. Your words, while important, risk being forgotten if they are not followed by action.
People of action, those who make a difference in life, those whom we most admire, all seem to know the truth of the ancient wisdom, “What you do speaks so loud, I can’t hear what you say.” Be a doer. And in the process you will do more to teach others and to bring fulfillment into your own life than all the words in the dictionary could ever convey.