Monday, January 15, 2007

Shivering and Shiva

Cath and I just returned from a retreat with our church’s drama department. We pelted each other with snowballs (in Christian love, of course), tubed down a hill in religious formations, and played violent games of “Catch Phrase” – meditating on the spiritual metaphors of such phrases as “a stitch in time” and “Joan Rivers.”

We also spent some time in silent contemplation, meditation, and seeking after G-d.

Silence is an amazing and surprising thing – if one is actually able to attain and maintain silence for long. It is remarkable what one can hear in silence – both within and without our physical world.

Ellen Davis in her book GETTING INVOLVED WITH G-D: REDISCOVERING THE OLD TESTAMENT says this about the only act of Job’s friends that is repeated today, sitting shiva – silently sitting by Job’s side for seven days.

Ms. Davis has this to say about communal shiva:

“Silence kept with others has a special quality. It is like a fine veil, preserving separateness, yet strangely heightening mutual awareness. Silence requires us to be present to the unexpressed needs of others, needs of which they may themselves not yet know.”

May I learn how better to sit alongside in encouraging silence.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

2 comments:

Ben said...

Maybe I'm missing something but is "shiva" some kind of slang?

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/shiva

The only place I have heard that before is reading the Mahabarata.

~Ben

Gaffney said...

Sitting Shiva is a Jewish custom. Following a death, supporters would come visit the family and sit along side them in support.