There is a notion out there that to become ‘spiritually enlightened’ one must travel a great distance to a remote location and then find a guru hiding away in a cave. Books from far flung places and ancient history offer that allure when we search for great wisdom. One of my friends uses a great quote to poke fun at this fallacy when he says that ‘you can never be a prophet in your own land.‘
I opened Sister Stan’s book Stillness with the expectation of reading maybe some nice generic quotes and maybe a couple of prayers heavily influenced by the Catholic Church. What I found instead was one of the most deeply spiritual and thought provoking books that I have read in a long time.
What I loved the most about this book was that there was absolutely no waffle or filler text in it at all. There also were no stereotypical images of flowing rivers or smooth stones to distract from the writing. Each page had roughly only five lines each and the illustration was very sparse.
The content, however, was solid gold. Behind each and every word, there was a strong sense of life experience, profound thought and careful meditation. Where many other authors would have relayed stories, observations and anecdotes, here Sister Stan has simply written down her ideas and left them open to interpretation. This give the reader that vital space to think and engage with the text without distraction.
As I read through to the end, I surmised that if this book was a couple of thousand years old and written by someone on the far side of the world, it would be a classic bestselling text today.
To conclude, I will leave you with a few quotes to give you a flavour of what wisdom lies within this fantastic book. These are just a very small fraction of the many quotes that I highlighted while reading this book so so if you like what you read here, I strongly recommend that you get a copy of this book asap.
Shadows follow me everywhere, every day.
Unrecognised, repressed, disowned, cast aside,
they frighten me.
Confronted, recognised, acknowledged, claimed
and named, they illuminate and guide me,
bring comfort and peace.
Sun sets, evening descends, light fades, day draws
to a close. I light a lamp and a new glow streams
across my day.
Hour of peace, silence falling on the world.
Setting aside the day, I enter into the serenity
One journey, two paths:
the outer path – career, work, busyness;
the inner path – silence, stillness, hidden.
An integrated day – travelling both paths at one time.
Help me to do what I do well, happily,
Tomorrow is the enemy of today. I cannot be
tomorrow what I can be today.
Doing – the energy to move with focused
attention, accomplish sepcific tasks, achieve goals.
Being – the energy to ponder, be centred, be fully
present in the moment with receptive awareness.
Wholeness – balancing being and doing.
- Sister Stanislaus Kennedy is an Irish Sister of Charity and the founder of Focus Ireland as well as many other voluntary organisations.
- To read more about Sister Stan and her mindfulness workshops go to www.sanctuary.ie/facilitators/sr-stan/