Pilgrimpace's Blog


silence and interiority

Another response to the Comments on Into Santiago:

Almost twenty years ago I went to India for the first time as part of an exchange between the British and Indian Student Christian Movements.  It was an extremely powerful and formative three weeks, allowing a humbling glimpse into the lives of many people in South India, and particularly into attempts to make social and economic change in that country of extremes.

One of the things that has stayed most in my memory was an overnight visit to Saccidananda Ashram at Shantivanum in Tamil Nadu.  This Camaldolese Monastery is perhaps best known as the home of Fr Bede Griffiths for many years, but to my mind its importance is perhaps most to be sought in its foundation by Dom Henri Le Saux, the French monk who became Abhishiktanada, and who lived and wrote some of the very deepest, most painful, and most real things in Christian – Hindu dialogue.  (Click here and here for a couple of book recommendations).

Away from the bustle and lack of space of urban India, Saccidanada was a haven of peace and tranquility (although a place where justice and peace are seen as essential elements of prayer).  Talking to the monks, I asked a question about the dissonance between the noise and lack of personal space I had been experiencing, and was told a simple truth: The heart of India is silence and interiority.

This was perhaps in the back of my mind when I was writing ‘Into Santiago’ , reflecting particularly on the contrast between the quietness and often silence of the walking with the noise and bustle of Santiago Cathedral and particularly the Pilgrim Mass.

I am really interested in how Robert has noticed the noise of the rain and the runners – I had originally seen them as being barriers to arriving in time for Mass, but – of course – they were noise as well, and are all a part with the noisy Mass and the quiet of prayer.

I will have one more response this has triggered, based on Kiwi Nomad’s wonderful blog of photos and reflections.  Perhaps tomorrow – hasta luego!

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