Calamities in life multiply at the most inopportune of moments. The buzz of gossip at work, the craziness of traffic, disruptions of lost keys and forgotten plans, disagreeable conversations and frustrating conflicts generate an energy all their own. One stressor after the other feeds the last until there is no shred of calm visible or even viable and the calamity becomes the turmoil of a tornado, stripping away all that was foundational and familiar. It happens periodically in families and businesses, schools and churches, among friends and fans. Most importantly, it obscures the deeper issue of what really matters.
There is a temptation in that space to choose sides, point blame, criticize and complain, indulge in suspicion and conspiracy theories. But the choices around this are often not about the events themselves. Instead, the choice is about how to meet the challenge, what attitude can be most effective, how to live in the midst of the storm. It is almost too easy to delve into the drama head first, fists flying and mouth running. It is easier to speculate than step away. And yet, at the very core of Catholicism is that invitation to quiet.
Quiet is more than a physical space; it is of the soul, a sacred center for sorting out the puzzle pieces of life. It is a monastery within, with room for all the agonies and joys of everyday. Quiet allows for the formation of context for memory, for perspective around emotion and for truth in choices. Quiet enables the whisper of God to be heard in heart, and quiet reveals the path to be chosen with deliberate calm.
The tradition of quiet is woven into Catholicism in thousands of strands from Jesus’ time in the desert through the choices of the monastics and the lives of Francis and Clare and in the lives of today’s contemplative persons. Quiet is an invitation to rediscover the calm in the calamity, to trust in the deeper truths, and to know in heart that the collective good requires sacrifice and attentiveness from each of us. Quiet opens the avenue of possibility.