Return to Silence (Rev. Jared Michaels)
Ever since the election I have wanted to speak out, but the words have not come.
I asked myself why. I came up with four reasons, and the last one felt especially worth sharing with you.
- I moved recently and that took an enormous amount of energy and attention.
- My wife and I are having a baby any day now and that is also taking an incomprehensible amount of energy and attention.
- I'm still deep in process about the election and the state of the world in general and I honestly don't know what to say.
- When I ask myself what I can possibly say right now, the message I get back is don't say anything. Return to silence.
Let me elaborate on this last point, or else you might think I'm retreating into what some people call quietism. (Quietism is a word that was introduced to me at the Zen monastery. It's a path that some people who get really into spirituality take. It basically means that you use spirituality as a drug to avoid dealing with the pain of life and the world).
No, that's not what I'm doing. I'm wholeheartedly seeking a deeper form of activism and returning to silence seems to be the foundation of it.
This phrase comes to me from a book called "Returning to Silence" by the late Zen teacher Katagiri Roshi. The silence he is talking about isn't at all about quietism. It's about finding our true ground and realizing who we truly are. And perhaps this is where I take it a step further: It's also about directing the wisdom and compassion that comes from knowing who we are toward healing ourselves and the world.
So, for our own happiness and for the good of the world, may we return to silence again and again and again in 2017. Wishing you a good year!
This piece, a letter Jared sent to personal friends in early 2017, reminds us of the sanctuary of trees. Reprinted with permission. Jared's bio will be added by Friday 2/24/17. Thanks for your patience.