Into Silence: There is Too Much, Let Me Sum Up

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Several years ago, I was watching a video of a discussion held by several prominent, liberal theologians, writers, pastors, artists, and thinkers–my tribe, I guess. Men and women who were gathered to consider profound issues of peace, justice, and democracy, in light of the shared belief that we are more than we seem. We are called, they agreed, to be co-creators with Love of a world that not only recognizes our equality in the eyes of the Sacred, but will not survive without it.

They sat in a semicircle in front of an audience, thoughtfully considering, offering their views, respectfully disagreeing, extending ideas, speaking the truth in love, pondering communally.

At one point, they took turns summing-up, sharing a “final thought” on an issue, and the dialogue was passed to Frederick Buechner, who took a long, quiet breath, stretched his legs out in front of the chair, crossing them at the ankles. He bent his head and held his hands in his lap before saying, “I think it would be a fitting time to go into silence,” at which point every one of those remarkable people joined him, flowing into silence. The energy had been peaceful, but now it was utterly stilled; the entire space seemed enveloped in light. It moved visibly through the audience and through me.

“I think it would be a fitting time to go into silence.”

It’s how I feel today. And where I’m going.

Gentle Peace.

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10 thoughts on “Into Silence: There is Too Much, Let Me Sum Up

    1. Thank you, Janet. Yes, I think the time for deep listening is here. And then the time for planning, in community, and doing, together, the hard work that will effect true change. Great and gentle peace to you. Be well and safe.

  1. Yes, we’ll all join in silence. Like the 8 minutes and 46 seconds that George Floyd suffered with a policeman’s knee on his neck—and in remembrance of him at the memorial service today in Minneapolis when Rev Al Sharpton had all join in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to grieve the ills in our communities and resolve what we can do personally with our time, for All God’s children. Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Take time to Breathe.

  2. Yes, thank you, I watched the service and grieve, and also need silence to guard against the words I use in anger, which there is, naturally, a surfeit of in response to this grotesque injustice, and it can be misdirected if I do not sit with it and listen to its wisdom and decide how to move forward without lashing out at strangers in ways that feel judgmental, prescriptive, and self-righteous. Anger, as I’ve written here since 2011, is a proper response to outrageous and daily injustice, but hard work, dialogue, and connection are the ways out.
    The moment I do not listen, I become the oppressor.
    I hope you are safe and well; gentle peace.

  3. Greetings Kitty,
    I’m a fellow listener, maker, and responder to change. When my collaborator and I saw your poem, we were aligned like the many who appreciated your giving voice to the thing that felt most knowing to us. Thank you for your generosity with the world wide web. Your words were a creative and spirited catalyst for an action we shared with our collegues: to record their own response on how they are “Wading in the Wobble”
    Collorborators are from Junebug Productions, NOLA and Urban Bush Women NYC.
    Enjoy!
    Chanon

  4. I love this…it is both meeting the shadow and, from that encounter, creating healing art. How perfect. Thank you for sharing your gifts and contributing to the deep healing we all need, so desperately, to move forward in love.

  5. Dear Kitty,
    the mention of this video has intrigued me. Would it be possible to share the title of the video? I have recently started reading more of Frederick Buechner’s work and it has touched me in many ways.
    Thank you for your beautiful writing and reflections.

  6. Hello, and thank you for writing. I’m so sorry, it was not a professional, edited and titled video, in my recollection, just a clip someone (an audience member?) had recorded…it may have been shared as part of my chaplaincy training (15 years ago now). I just don’t recall much, but the feelings of slow consideration, and then Buechner’s call to silence, and everyone else’s respect and agreement. It has stayed with me all these years, and my memory has lost other details.

    I have always had great respect for his writing, too. Three others who come to mind when I think of Buechner–different, of course, but as impressive and moving–are Wendell Berry, Parker Palmer, and Barbara Brown Taylor.

    Thank you again for writing. Be well and safe, and gentle peace.

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