LENT 2010 – a suggestion for a lenten practice

Brothers and Sisters,

For your Lenten practice for 2010, I recommend to you to just sit in silence for a few moments.  Start with two minutes and build up to twenty by the end of Lent.  There is very little silence in America today — even in Mass on Sunday.  If you are uneasy with silence, you are uneasy with yourself and with God.  So take these six weeks of Lent to learn the discipline of silence; that is,of contemplative prayer.  How to quiet your mind and open your heart.  It is the basic form of prayer of all of the religions of the world.

Many years ago I was vacationing with a friend in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina It was late at night.  A few deer were our only companions on the mountain top. It was pitch black. We couldn’t even see each other.  The stars were out all over the heavens in a spectacular display.  We were gazing toward the heavens and my friend and I were silent for the longest while.  And the silence was penetrating.  No cars, no planes, no sirens, no dogs barking, no boomboxes blasting, no words shared between us.

I still remember that moment.  It was my introduction to the awesome / all enveloping / soul-grabbing experience of  silence.   The whole moment inserted us into the mystical;  the silence itself was enrapturing.

I have loved silence now for many years.  When I was in treatment for my illness, I learned that spending an hour before the Blessed Sacrament each night in the center’s chapel allowed me some relief from my depression and self loathing.  There was consolation in the silence.  I heard God speak — words that were infused directly into my soul.

In fact, silence is the language God speaks.  Or rather, God speaks in the silence.  If we are to learn to hear God speaking to us, it is very necessary for us to learn to be comfortable with silence.

In the silence we will hear the voices that inhabit our mind and our soul — the harsh voices that may have been with us since childhood, and the soft, gentle voices of our friends, including the soft gentle Voice of God.  Elijah revealed the gift of the silence of God thousands of years ago:

“Elijah came to a cave where he looked for shelter.  Then the Lord said to him, ‘Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord;  the Lord will be passing by.’  A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks — but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind, there was an earthquake — but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake, there was a fire — but the Lord was not in the fire.  After the fire was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave” I Kings 19:9,11-13.

So, the mystery of silence is where the Lord is.  When we enter silence we enter as if upon a vast ocean.  We enter upon the vast communication system of the universe; we think we hear the music of the spheres, as I was sure we did on that night long ago on the mountain top. But we also entered upon the silence of mystery.  The mystery of God’s presence almost necessarily involves silence.  Silence is the language of mystery.

Take the time this Lent to let God grab you — in the ocean of silence.

If you can’t find a quiet place, escape to the bathroom, or roll up your car window and turn up the radio and enter for a few moments your little “poustinia” your own little quiet place.  And encounter your God and encounter your True Self.

They call this Centering Prayer.

For the rest of this article which appeared in my reflection / letter Arise in 1998 click here.

For information about the origins and practice of Centering Prayer click here.

For your an audio / visual meditation “Let all mortal flesh keep silence click here.

Or with lyrics click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

priest / writer

True Love

Love is as delicate as a flower

Many of us are thinking of our Valentine’s these days — our lovers,  intendeds, spouses, classmates, mothers, etc.,etc.

So, what is love?

I have officiated at the marriages of many young couples  over the 40 years of my priesthood who have chosen  St. Paul’s Ode to Love for their wedding Mass.

It has got to be one of the most awesome pieces of prose of all time.

Take the time to take it in and see how you (we) measure up.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.

And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;

if I have all faith so as to move mountains

but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast

but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous,

Love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude,

it is not quick-tempered,

it does not brood over injury, It bears all things,

believes all things,

hopes all things,

endures all things. Love never fails. So faith, hope, love remain, these three;

but the greatest of these is love.

– I Corinthians 13

Dearest God,

You are LOVE itself.

We give you thanks for the people in our life who have loved-us-into the persons we are.

We rejoice in them and remember them in love.

But so many of us are wounded because we have not experienced the parental love

that would allow us to know and experience how to love.

Help us take your servant Paul’s words to heart that we may understand the true meaning of love.

May we have a heart that is open to all persons, all of life, all of the universe.

To You Lord, be glory and praise, now and forever.


Now for your listening pleasure, here are two Youtube versions of Bette Midler’s THE ROSE  (1) with great photograpy OR (and) with lyrics displayed.

(I have always have thought of Mary, Jesus’ mother, when I listen to the beautiful poetry of this song by Janis Joplin.)

With love,

Bob Traupman

priest / writer

Catching beauty on the “drive-by”

From time to time, I will offer a new topic to my blog role:  “My (adopted) hometown — Fort Lauderdale.

Homeward and westward bound, on Oakland Park Boulevard is usually a quite  uninteresting experience.  But once in a while — if one is Aware enough to notice — good things can happen.  A photographer knows that you have to be right there with slit-second timing to catch the right light on your subject.   Photography is about dancing with the light and the shadow, whenever and wherever they seem, um, unusual.  I love to capture such images that invite introspection and reflection. (or at least to try because this photographer also has Parkinson’s;  the sometimes unsteady hand results in sometimes quite unique images   I captured this particular moment on March 30, 2009 at 7:02 pm.  My iphone was nearby; I was probably listening to “Us and Them” on the same device; this Pink Floyd favorite  times perfectly to get me home from downtown if I leave after rush hour. I  steadied it firmly on top of the steering wheel.  The rays of the sun pierced the clouds above and sent a single glance toward us drivers on the ground.

Was that Awareness just for me?  Or did others experience it too?  Are we  (am I?) ready to “catch” beauty on the fly or on the “drive-by”?  Ready for the natural world to dialogue and dance with us?  Ready when it desires to reveal itself?   To surprise us / lift us out of ourselves / connect us with something beyond our self inflated (or deflated) worlds?  This, of course, wasn’t the most awesome sunset I’ve ever experienced.  (I do like to experience them rather than just observe them.) And surely  a couple of green lights, and incongruent light poles made for a less than idylic image.  Nevertheless, it  lifted me out of my homebound / self-bound thoughts and feelings  (whatever they were) into a moment of connection and contemplation with that little part of the cosmos that one humble / connected man, Francis of Assisi 900 years ago greeted as a Person: “Brother Sun.”

Just a thought:  There’s beauty everywhere in every place at every time for those who have eyes to see.  How ’bout you?
With love,

Bob Traupman

priest / writer