Once I was facilitating a community of nuns when, by the third day, I was noticing one of them who had about her a silence, a focused presence, that no one else had, including me. I found a small quiet moment in the midst of a break and spoke to
her what I was seeing. "You can only see this because it is also in you," was her reply.Later I found out that she was actually a recognized Zen Roshi, having been a missionary in Japan for forty years.
A few years later, when I was teaching in
Dublin, a sister came to me at the end of the course and said the same thing to me: "you have a silence about you," she said. My response, unplanned, also came forth: "only because you also have it in you," I said.
Now, many years after these two incidences,
I am meeting a longing, beginning to come to consciousness, for a more contemplative lifestyle. This is not only among nuns, but among many people in general. Two days ago, my Tai Chi teacher casually remarked that she and her husband meditate most days for
forty minutes twice a day. But I am meeting it more among religious women, perhaos because they are the ones I work with most.
A longing is surfacing in general, I believe, a small but growing groundswell, for a simpler, quieter, more thoughtful and
even contemplative way of life. The earth is calling us to it, but it is our own souls that are once again, through the madness of constant ego-activity, that are whispering again.