In the silence of worship, to begin with, the thinking mind does not find true rest and, in the absence of any particular method of self-control, feelings are agitated and confused.
An unruly throng of words appears on the screen of the imagination, and all you do is stare at them, or hear them like a sound track through headphones: you read them and listen to them, and usually they are not pleasing. They sound empty and even false.
But precisely because you are silent and not obliged to speak, you realise that it is good not to give voice to these words, not to make them public, and that here, more than on other occasions, words are not to be put into circulation thoughtlessly, and each one should be completely true to what is really inside you — as a smile is to joy and pleasantness, a kiss to tenderness and love, tears to sorrow and compassion.
And little by little, even if you are gifted in eloquence, you free yourself from the flooding torrent of words that are vain, deceitful, demagogic, self-serving, high-sounding, complacent; letting them fall like dead leaves, your mind releases hold, waiting for the space that remains to be filled with words that come from God.
Only when and if you have heard such words you may, feeling a clear inner urge, transmit the essence briefly to those who are meditating with you. But in the absence of exactly that inner urge, it is just as positive not to transmit them orally, limiting yourself to storing them up in your heart and living them out fully.
Moreover, it is truly possible to communicate completely and deeply with all the worshippers present even without words or gestures. Thoughts and feelings are transmitted at a certain level of consciousness, acknowledging that others receive them and give something back in exchange.
In silent worship, whether words are spoken or unspoken, they wholly replace all readings, prayers, songs or religious sermons, and give a sense of rare fullness and depth.
Livorno, 1 XII 1985
Please send any suggestions for alternative translations of any of these meditations to Simon Grant.