I am excited that Susan Stein will be our guest speaker this coming Sunday, February 21. Susan was introduced to me several years ago when she presented her one-woman play “Etty Hillesum” to the Unity Eastern Region Conference. I was left speechless and it has stayed with me all these years. The story of Etty Hillsum is a story of love and forgiveness. We all need to know more about both of those topics. Please, right now, register for the workshop she will be presenting at 1 p.m. on Sunday. You will be glad you did… she has some reading for you before the workshop, so it is important you register. We have invited Susan as part of our Season for Nonviolence. Her website is www.ettyplay.org.
Here is a testimony from one of her events:
Susan brought Etty to our playwriting workshop last spring. I can still remember the way in which the room was immediately transformed the moment Susan stepped into Etty’s shoes. A room of women diverse in age, background and interest became intimately involved in the life and struggles of a woman we never knew. We watched Etty as she saw a Nazi solider picking yellow flowers. We thought about our own beliefs as we heard Etty questioning her faith in God. It was more than a performance — it was a shared experience. We were invited into the private places of Etty’s suitcase and Susan’s writing process and because of this we asked deeper questions of ourselves, and of each other. In this room full of writers, ranging from 13 to 70 years old, I saw emerge in all of us the courage to share both our writing and our doubts, taking our cues from Etty.
I am a little sad that the series Journey Through the Gifts of Winter completed this past Sunday with the final talk “The Sounds of Silence.” Every week was another opportunity to view winter through a new lens. As I write this, we have another winter storm coming, and rather than dreading it, I look forward to it as it is a time for me to spend time with the silence.
Kenneth Leech says: If you love truth, be a lover of silence. Silence, like the sunlight, will illuminate you in God, and will unite you to God. Love silence: It brings you a fruit that tongue cannot describe. In the beginning we have to force ourselves to be silent. But then there is born something that draws us to silence. May God give you an expression of this “something” that is born of silence. After a while, a certain sweetness is born in the heart, and you are drawn almost by force to remain in silence.
It is delicious to think of the sweetness that is born in our heart that keeps us in the silence.
Today begins the next 40 days and 40 nights of Lent. The message I gave on Sunday has some great practices to incorporate into Lent. I shared with you the importance of spending an hour a day in the silence. I also shared information from an article written by Carolyn Gregoire and she gave four reasons how the silence benefits us physically. Silence relieves stress and tension, replenishes our mental resources, taps into the brain’s default mode network, and can regenerate brain cells. She gives a practice for daily sitting in the silence for one hour.
Simplicity and solitude were also topics I touched on. Simplicity is all about focusing on what’s most important to you and letting go of the rest. A simple life provides freedom. There are some good practices for you in this section as well.
In Anam Cara, John O’Donahue says one of the things that is essential is silence and then adds the other is solitude.
He writes: Solitude is one of the most precious things in the human spirit. It is different from loneliness. When you are lonely you become acutely conscious of your own separation. Solitude can be a homecoming to your own deepest belonging.
My friend, give yourself the gifts of silence, simplicity, and solitude.
Beginning February 28, I will start a new series on the book Living Originally by Unity minister Robert Brumet. This too will bring you lots of good information.
Have a great week and stay safe and healthy.
You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Patricia Bessey