There was a note waiting for me when I opened my e-mail this morning which I'd like to share. It said, in part, “Thank you for your wonderful website. And thank you for sharing your experiences. I went through a tough time the last three years and made a decision to change myself today. I found your website to be very helpful."
We tend to think that having a comfortable, happy, nicely ordered life is a good thing, and perhaps it is. In fact, we may even feel a tinge of envy as we observe a friend or stranger who has an apparently comfortable, happy, exciting life.
But change -- drastic change – is absolutely essential at times if we are to taste true freedom.
And times of despair and anguish, difficult though they may be, can open a door to authentic happiness and peace that otherwise might have remained closed.
Listening below the noise
Sometimes drastic change is thrust upon us by external circumstance -- and sometimes it comes upon us because we ourselves seek it out.
This was the case with Anne D. LeClaire, author of a beautiful book I have been reading entitled Listening Below the Noise: The Transformative Power of Silence.
Seventeen years ago LeClaire, who lives on Cape Cod, decided to turn an ordinary Monday into a day of silence. Little did she realize that she had begun an inner voyage that -- as her book most eloquently portrays -- would transform her life.
She has practiced total silence two days a month ever since, and found a center of calm and peace in herself because of this practice that has transformed her life.
The grace back of adversity
After living for 36 years in a spiritual community in British Columbia I was sure the moreorless calm, ordered existence I had known would continue forever.
Mind you, I nodded my head when people spoke of change, the need for change. But the notion that the community might actually come to an end one day was moreorless inconceivable to me.
But, of course, that was what happened. At the age of 63, following the death of the leader, I had no choice but to come back into the world I had forsaken in the naive idealism of youth.
What Despair. What Catastrophe.
As I walked the streets of Vancouver, lost and alone, I thought I had never known such despair or emptiness.
But I chuckle now as I think of these things.
Because what seemed like catastrophe led me after a time of agony and confusion and terror to a deeper connection with my own authentic Self that might never have happened if life had not grabbed me by the throat and said: "Time for a change."
Life – shall I say God? -- plays hard for sure. But I know now that its intent is kind, and merciful.
Life wants us to be free
Life wants us to be free. And whatever it takes to help us be free, that it is what it will do.
Of course, we have to play our part in the process. It takes patience, and courage, and trust, as Anne LeClaire discovered, to find the treasure hidden within the silence of our own heart.
We discover that stillness is not "emptiness" but is the core of our own true presence. It is the very source of the authentic freedom and happiness for which we have secretly longed.