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Silence: "Don't just do something, SIT there!"

Updated: Apr 28, 2020


(This was originally shared with some brothers at one of my Saturday men’s gatherings.)

“Don’t just sit there, DO something.”

Many of us are, by nature, like action figures. Whether we’re known as GI Joe, GI Tom, GI Mike, or GI Richard…we prefer action over contemplation. So our task is to find our own way to balance these two. Rather than being adversarial, action and contemplation are complementary.

Is one “better than” the other? I’ll let the Teacher answer, “The Master said, ‘Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.’”

Why I practice periods of silence…

ü To balance my periods of thinking with times of less thinking

ü To help me hear Another’s voice like the gentle whisper or breeze in 1 Kings 19

ü To help me realize that I am more than my thoughts

ü To balance action with contemplation

“Action without contemplation is just re-action”

Don’t just do something, SIT there.”

How I practice silence…


ü Walking outside without electronics. Helps me be more present to my surroundings – nature and people I may meet. Headphones can be like a “DO NOT DISTURB ME” sign.

ü Avoiding TV and radio noise shows.


ü Centering prayer (15+ years) – learned it directly from Thomas Keating

ü Mindfulness (2+ years) – paying more attention to my thoughts (Buddhist witness practices help)

“Be still…and know that I am G-d.” Psalm 46:10

These words can be seen as either invitation or imperative. In urgent situations, they could even be shortened to


“Stop babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need BEFORE you ask him.” Matthew 6

"Silence is God's first language," wrote the 16th-century mystic John of the Cross – to which Thomas Keating adds “Everything else is a poor translation.”

Centering prayer prepares us for the gift of contemplative prayer – an inner stance of surrender to the Divine Presence.

Rather than seeing it simply as a technique, centering prayer is more about a relationship, an intimacy between two lovers. A former pastor – Bishop Craig - used to say that prayer is an all-day conversation with G-d. Viewed as a conversation between lovers, there are times of talking and listening and, if you’re really close, times of silence where we just rest in each other’s presence. This resting in presence is our home.

The Method of Centering Prayer – Contemplative Outreach

Scientific benefits of meditation:

(From the HeartMath Institute article) “They [study participants] then focused on sending out healing, compassionate intention to others, something members of the HMI-founded Global Coherence Initiative practice individually and collectively. This, participants understood, was vital in achieving personal healing.”

(My add – This is AA’s Step 12 - to keep it, you have to give it away!)

“They ended the formal practice by expressing their gratitude for healing and asking to live their lives as instruments and channels of healing peace.”

(My add – sounds like the Prayer of St. Francis)

“A man once asked Rumi, "Why is it you talk so much about silence?" His answer: "The radiant one inside me has never said a word.”

― Coleman Barks, The Soul of Rumi: A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems

“Listen. Can you hear it? The music. I can hear it everywhere. In the wind… in the air… in the light. It’s all around us. All you have to do is open yourself up. All you have to do … is listen.”

--August Rush (from the movie) Official trailer (0:02:25) An excerpt (0:04:33)

Becoming Stillness – Richard Rohr (1:01:19)


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