A Letter from the Fellowship of Saint John – Mary Ann Mello

Reflections on Silence

Silence…..How can there be silence in the noisiest heart?  As I slowly started adapting the Rule for the Fellowship, I had trouble. I could make my environment quiet, I don’t watch TV, I could turn off my phone and just be, but for a long time I could not quiet my heart to receive.  I started going to Compline on Tuesdays after work a summer ago in Cambridge.  What struck me at each visit was a growing awareness of letting go of time, letting the Brothers’ rhythm of singing back and forth like gentle waves take over.  Even though Compline is obviously not silent, I learned to let go and listen and there was a type of silence in doing so.  I could join in the prayers but it was ok if I didn’t and just listened. I learned that sometimes you just can’t quiet a restless mind and that was ok too.

In space and time, I gradually not let the silence be filled with my own thoughts of discernment, life, and feeling as if I had it all wrong. In really deepening my understanding of the silence–that it wasn’t just about being quiet environmentally, but making room internally–I was able to come to a fresh new place where my heart was open to the unfolding mystery. Does it always happen? No, but in the times that it does, sometimes, I can hear the Brothers through the silence chanting me home.

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