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Learning Stillness

Contemplative and mystic of the 17th century, St. Teresa of Avila’s The Interior Castle gives minute attention to the architecture of an inner life. The benefit of spending time constructing the rooms and doorways of your heart/mind/soul is that it has the potential to ground you when the outside world is “asking for chaos.” You do not have to be governed by that outside world, you can be solidly established by doing a little work inside. In addition, St. Teresa seems to say that your purpose can be revealed once you have learned to be still.

Looking out over the castle to the sea

When you have grown still on purpose while everything around you is asking for chaos, you will find the doors between every room of the interior castle thrown open, the path home to your true love unobstructed after all.

– St. Teresa of Avila

The summer offers its own different pace from the semester’s hustle. It can be an opportunity to practice stillness and contemplation. Any good construction project takes time to excavate before building, so anticipate some time digging and discovering what may have been buried amidst the semester’s busy pace.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s founder, William Penn’s book The Fruits of Solitude also written in the 17th century was popular in the U.S. and Europe throughout the 18th century. Of solitude, Penn says that it is “a school few care to learn in tho’ none instructs us better.”

So, I invite you to find a place, out in nature, in your home, while out on a walk and learn from the school of solitude. May you discover stillness, peace, and deep purpose.

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