+ Dear Family and Friends,
A pomegranate blossom, rather than any other star, seems the fitting emblem for this festive season, here in the southern hemisphere, where i find myself this year. Due to the pandemic, i’m still in Argentina, enjoying summer. Grateful though i am to be in good health and with very dear friends, it does feel strange to celebrate Advent, this time of waiting, without winter weather. When the usual trimmings are missing, however, it’s easier to see the essentials. As i see it, the essence of Advent is silence. Is not at the very core of this time of year, celebrated by many traditions as a sacred season, a hushed stillness?
My favorite Christmas antiphon speaks of silence bringing forth word. Year after year, i find myself looking forward to that verse from the Book of Wisdom and its moving melody. This year, too, i shall be chanting it, for the Liturgy of the Hours unites me with my Brothers at the monastery.
While deep silence enveloped all things,
and night in its swift course was now half gone,
Thy all-powerful word leaped from heaven,
from the royal throne. (Book of Wisdom 18:14)
Many people experienced more silence in this past year, than in any other. We can receive this as a great gift. Mythic understanding knows: In order to be truly heard, a word needs “deep silence,” for it is coming “from heaven.” In everyday experience, it is coming from right next door. Increased silence in the time of quarantine wants to teach us to listen with our hearts. It creates a unique opportunity to listen to those with whom we think to have nothing in common.
Wherever we look these days, we find society split in two. Neither of the two sides is listening to the other, yet nothing could be more urgently needed. 2021 calls for a New Year’s resolution to seek out those whose opinions are the opposite of our own and to start listening to them; to bracket for a while convictions that divide us, facing instead our shared problems and tackling them together. If this year of worldwide suffering has made us ready to listen that deeply, every word that comes out of our silence will be a “yes” to mutual belonging. It will be what the antiphon calls it – an “all-powerful word.” For it will be a word of love, and love is all-powerful.
With this hope before us, i wish you peace and joy,
Your brother David
Photo: Diego Ortiz Mugica
Br. David Steindl-Rast is the founding advisor of A Network for Grateful Living. He is a Benedictine monk, interfaith pioneer, author, and teacher. You can read more about him and find his extensive online archives here.
If you would like to offer a brief reflection on this letter or a short greeting for Br. David during this season of light, please do so in the space below.
Br. David sends a big grateful hug and the following message in response to your kind comments below…
+ Thank you for your kind words!
Peace and blessings,
Your brother David
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We met thirty years ago Earth Day, while doing dishes one evening at Mount Savior. I admired your nice tan and you said, “Well, I didn’t get it just lying around, I’ve been working in the garden!” Words to live by, ever so– Brother!
Feliz A~o Nuevo/Saludos desde Nuevo Mexico
Thank you Brother David for these thoughtful words. I wish you peace and good health for this Holiday season and for 2021. You have been a guide to me in so many ways. Thank you.
Dear Brother David: A letter I found tucked away in my desk, inscribed by you to my mother, “Dear Mae,” dated 2001-2002, thankfully led me to Gratefulness, the pomegranate blossom, and to deep silence. At 98 Mae is full of life (and laughter), and we still speak of you. And behind me, on my study wall in Sag Harbor, is a graceful needlepoint of a spreading pomegranate tree, a wedding gift sewn by one dear Elizabeth, who lived and worked in Vienna. A gift Megan and I treasure after 38 years, reminded daily of (Earth’s) fertility, and of rebirth. As I am reminded today of your kindness to my mother, at Kendal. Thank you for the gift of the blossom! With Gratitude, Scott Chaskey
Bless you dear Bro. David this day and all days. You have been a true “light” in my life since I was privileged to meet you in Kilarney in 1994 at the Earth, Spirt and Human Future conference through my friends Sally Taylor and Vivienne Hull. I have a picture of you on my desk taken there with Sally’s young daughter that I look at daily! I was once again privileged to be in your presence at IONS institute in California in about 2009 when you did a workshop with Joan Roshi. Your books are my “open and find inspiration” as I fall asleep each night and the Daily Word starts my days. We share a birthday, July 12th! Your wisdom and spirit gives me hope in these challenging days. Gratitude is, without question, the core of my life. Thank you.
Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Br. David is reading the messages on this page and wanted to be sure you know that he appreciates your care. Please see a photo, thank you, and greeting from Br. David above.
I have been gift of being able to live on 27 acres in a very very rural area . I share that space with sheep ,donkeys,geese,chickens pigs and turkeys . my daily experience with silence has taught me there is knowledge and compassion in our world that I cannot express using words. Thank you for your skill at using words to help explain our hearts.
I love you, Brother David.
I think of your double realm teachings often, and my car keys have become prayer beads…because you taught me to bless each moment of starting my car, of leaving my house, of returning to a safe, warm space. You taught me to stop in awe and awareness and breathe in each blessing I often pass by. Exhaling deeply, a blessing that all may be so blessed. I am grateful to you with my whole heart. This Christmas promises snow storms in Ohio. I will meet you in the silence, and send you a snowy, starry night when it arrives.
I send you Love and gratitude and blessings of deep peace.
Your sister on the path,
Blessings to you, Brother David. Thank you.
Dear Brother David, thank you for your moving letter. Especially these days, where so many of us here and all over the world open their hearts to stillness and to rejoice. Thank you as well from my heart for sharing the antiphon which connects you with your Brothers with us. May you have a blessed Christmas time and be happy. Thank you deeply for all you do for us. It is an immeasurable gift. May you be eternally blessed. 🙏
Thank you for your inspiring words, for the truth and kindness that flows with them, for all the moments throughout this past year when you touched my heart and made me feel pure, divine love! May you feel connected to all your brothers and sisters over the distance at christmas Eve and enjoy the sunshine in Argentina! A warm embrace und frohe Weihnachten aus Wien! 🎄
Blessing, Br David from Osage Forest of Peace retreat center outside of Sand Springs, OK. While I have been a follower of Gratefulness.org for many years, I became the director here at the Forest a year ago. I wanted to greet you as I know that you and Sr Pascaline Coff, the foundress of the Forest, know each other. It is a joy to continue to be connected with you.
Blessings brother David, thank you for the insightful kind words. Happy to hear you are well. I once had the honor of having a beautiful conversation with you at the Immaculate Heart Hermitage in Big Sur. You were so kind to take time to meet with me as I struggled with my journey and I really appreciate it. I continue to navigate through as I continue to utilize the insight insight that you and others share. I am neither this or that, nor do I desire to be this or that, I only wish to be, and in Being I am not.
That was and is the space I am in, you made me feel at peace with this by your light, gentle voice and kind words, something I will never forget. Thanks again, I appreciate it, you and may you have Blessed holidays. Love you man.
Beloved Br. David, you are a blessing and a gift to us all. Whenever i think of you my heart dances.
Thank you for this beautiful reminder to listen in the silence of quarantine with open Hearts. May we each emerge kinder and more loving. Happy New Age and New Year. With Love, Tay
Thank You for acknowledging each of us, Saoirse! It is so easy to feel “invisible.” You have truly touched my Heart today. Happy Monday, December 28th – heading into 2021… may we all feel “seen.” With More Love, Tay
Thank you, Tay. I hope you always feel seen by the gratefulness team. We may be quiet on the site but we see and appreciate you all. And I so appreciate your sharing your blessing for the New Year: “May we each emerge kinder and more loving. Happy New Age and New Year.” May it indeed be so. With all warmth and a grateful heart, Saoirse
Thank you for your beautiful letter, Brother David. May your message find its way into the hearts of all humanity. Am listening to the O Antiphons and partaking of some magical pomegranate juice and wishing you and your monastic community a beautiful Christmas.
With love, peace, joy and gratefulness from Pollyanna.
Brother David, I remember my first contact with you in Boston speaking at the Prudential Center, and years later at the retreat with Dr. Christina Puchalski in Assisi. The pomegranate has much meaning to me. and I appreciate your using it’s flower as a symbol of rebirth. Here in California, the promise of this flower has become a lush fruit which comforts and delights. The pomegranate is a symbol of giving ones self as it busts open when ripe, I also like using it to portray caregivers, who are crusty on the outside, but full of richness and self-service. A quote I wrote for the opening pages of my book, “The Soul of Caregiving, A Caregiver’s Guide to Healing and Transformation” is “Just as the pomegranate reveals its inner secrets in due season, so does Soul refresh with insight and wisdom.” Thank you for all you go. I am very grateful. Dr. Edward M Smink PhD
Lieber Bruder David, herzlichen Dank aus Wien für diesen Brief, dieses wunderbare Geschenk zur Weihnacht! Da geht einem das Herz auf! 🙂
Vielen Dank für Ihre nachdenklichen Worte. Bitte sehen Sie ein Foto, danke und Gruß von Bruder David oben.
Brother David, you always inspire me. 🙏 Thank you.
We love you Brother David! Thank you for sharing your gifts. We are extremely grateful for you and your teachings! The Galea family
Brother David, thank you for sharing your heartfelt words with the Gratefulness community! May you be blessed.
Lieber Bruder David,
Dein inspirierendes Vorbild ist in mir lebendig, jeden Tag.
Mögest Du gesund und froh ins Neue Jahr gehen!
Die Welt ist durchzogen von Deinen Spuren des Lichts 🙏
Mit dankbarem Herzen
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