I have been going between the book, Totem Salmon, and Karen Armstrong's The Spiral Staircase. In many ways, they are the same. It is for each of us to discover and uncover our path, to swim up our own stream.
What Karen discovers is that while there is all this discord between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, they really are the same. We are given tools to contact empathy, the need to understand others, and in that, ourselves.
She speaks of the importance of solitude and quiet. I give you just a nibble to entice you into some quiet today, some silence, some time and space of your own.
She is now working at home, alone, after a busy, involved life. Karen Armstrong writes:
"At first this silence had seemed a deprivation, a symbol of an unwanted isolation. I had resented the solitude of my life and fought it. But gradually the enveloping quiet became a positive element, almost a presence, which settled comfortably and caressingly around me like a soft shawl. It seemed to hum, gently but melodiously, and to orchestrate the ideas that I was contending with, until they started to sing too, to vibrate and reveal an unexpected resonance. After a time I found that I could almost listen to the silence, which had a dimension all its own. I started to attend to its strange and beautiful texture, which, of course, it was impossible to express in words. I discovered that I felt at home and alive in the silence, which compelled me to enter my interior world and walk around there. Without the distraction of constant conversation, the words on the page began to speak directly to my inner self. They were no longer expressing ideas that were simply interesting intellectually, but were talking directly to my own yearning and perplexity. I was no longer just grabbing concepts and facts from my books, using them as fodder for the next interview, but learning to listen to the deeper meaning that lay quietly and ineffably beyond them. Silence itself had become my teacher."
May we listen to, absorb, and become the silence each day.
The entire salmon season may be halted. It is staggeringly painful to read Totem Salmon, and see what has been done since the "White Man" came to view the Pacific salmon as a commodity. A few have worked to save them. It may be too late. The salmon need to return to their own stream but cutting down forests and putting up dams has changed the flow. I love salmon and what they represent. Anyone who has seen a salmon work its way upstream can only be impressed with what a body can do.
It is sad news today.
Karen Armstrong's book, The Spiral Staircase, concludes beautifully and profoundly. Compassion is the name of the game.
Compassion and empathy - the Golden Rule - walking in another's shoes - it's all rather simple really - compassion!
Perhaps we can each be "absorbed in holiness" much of the time, by letting our ego go as much as is possible and dissolving the boundaries that seem to separate and recognizing that we are here together in a very funny place, gathered to learn to love, connect, and share.