“I renew in quietness, meditation, prayer, and contemplation. Renewal feeds action; it’s like the inhalation and exhalation of breathing.” — Sister Helen Prejean, IN SWEET COMPANY: CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE
I am often told by people who read my last book, that reading IN SWEET COMPANY is a bonanza of meaningful quotes. Readers are moved not only by what the women I interviewed in the book say, but that the women are so emotionally generous and candid about their inner lives.
As a long time collector of meaningful quotes myself and a great fan of the Collective Wisdom, I relate to the gratitude and relief of finding the right words at the right time. You turn a page, read a blog or flip on the TV and come across the answer to a problem that’s ravishing your mind, and you can hardly believe your good fortune! You find a way through a difficult experience because someone else had the courage to share their pain. It’s an answered prayer.
I’ve been thinking about this lately as I work out the final details for my next book, hoping I said things in just the right way, that I captured an experience in words that will inspire, bring insight, make more room for joy in the world. Finding the perfect word is not an intellectual process — at least not for me. It’s a matter of being present not only to what I’m feeling, but to the holiness of the moment. When I do this, when I make that connection, I find the words come through me not to me; I know what to say because I know what needs to be said, what “fits.” I’m not focused on filling the silence or creating an impression or comforting another or relieving my own discomfort. I hear my note in the symphony of life and I sing it.
It took a while to understand this — to understand I need to be present to every aspect of my life, not just my writing. It took a while to learn how important it is to get out of my own way so I can let the Universe flow through me. Being present is much more important than being perfect.
It’s ironic but true: When I rest in the Silence — quiet my mind and my heart — the right words, the most healing words, find their way to me.