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Issue 31

Article by M T - It is strange to be here

Here is a brief quotation from a contemporary Irish writer who knows a great deal about the life of the spirit, our inner life. His name is John O’Donahue. “It is strange to be here (he writes). The mystery never leaves you alone. Behind your image, below your words, above your thoughts, the silence of another world waits.”

“It is strange to be here”. We take so many things for granted these days, that we have almost forgotten the astonishing fact that we actually exist – that God has actually created us.


    “The mystery never leaves you alone”. For all our sophistication – for all our technical expertise and wonderful discoveries, we actually live in a context of mystery. The more we know, the less, in fact, we know. The mystery of time, of space, of life and death, of love and happiness, especially of sorrow and pain – these mysteries (as O’Donahue says) never really leave us alone.

“The silence of another world waits”. Indeed it does! But we fail to make contact. In this our generation, we are so very bound up in the things of this world, we are so desperately distracted by the escalation of noise, and the constant restlessness of our Western civilization. As a consequence, we are forfeiting our opportunities to explore the riches of eternity. We are ignoring the wealth of the glory of God in that “other world” which in truth surrounds us and also lies deep within us. We are turning our back on our inheritance as spiritual beings, children of God.

The clamour of the world, especially of the modern technological world, is very insistent, and very persuasive. It has infected the Church, the Christian community. We feel guilty unless we are constantly engaged in activity. Prayer is marginal. The nuns of Stanbrook Abbey near Worcester have this to say in their explanatory leaflet – “We have chosen to live in silence and concentration . . . we have chosen a stillness more powerful than all activity, a detachment more fulfilling than all possession, a wisdom exceeding all knowledge, and a love beyond all.”