If the New Year reminds us of anything it is that where we have been may not be anything like where we are headed.  What’s ahead of us may be good or bad—but one thing is clear—we don’t know.

Most of us don’t think of ourselves as refugees. But when it comes to events and eventualities we never know what is around the corner.

We think we are living on solid ground then suddenly the ground of our lives quakes—a dear one dies, we lose our job, the mortgage goes into foreclosure, a significant relationship crashes—the diagnosis of a serious illness catapults us into a state of alarm and uncertainty.

New Year’s day reminds us that we are one and all, refugees.  We are all in exile from there to here, from that to this—and just when we think we have finally arrived it’s time to move on again.

New year’s eve and new year’s day form a metaphor for practically every day of our lives.

The raucous and noisy gives way to a quiet dawn of a new day.  When the party is over we are left with ourselves.

What do we do when the party is over, what now?

There is a story about a fifth century monk who felt troubled, distracted and unfulfilled.  So the monk went to the abbot asking for a teaching, asking for advice, hoping to hear a word that would help calm things down and clear things up.  “Please give me a Word,”implored the monk.  “Tell me something that will inspire and motivate me.”  The Abbot said, “Go and sit in silence in your room. The silence will teach you everything.”

There is another story about two Zen monks who one day, were having an argument about a flag hanging from a flag pole.  One said, “The flag is moving.”  The other said, “The wind is moving.”  It just so happened that a great Zen master was walking by and overheard the argument.  Stopping in front of the two monks he said, “Not the wind, not the flag; your minds are moving.”

The mind is always moving.

In our minds there is that endless babble, the ticker tape of restless thoughts.  The mind is always thinking. The mind is always chattering.  But deep within each and every one of us is what is famously called the still, small voice.  We cannot hear this still, small voice unless the chattering mind is hushed.  The practice of silence teaches us how to be quiet within even when the world is bustling without.  In silence we find our way home to the wholeness hidden in the depths of our being.  Learning to sit in prayer, meditation and the presence of each other is an acquired skill, and, like every acquired skill, this requires practice.

Silence the chatter.  Quiet the mind.

Sit down. Shut up.  Touch the vast and spacious interior silence.  In this interior silence we can hear the still small voice.

We are all refugees seeking sanctuary.

Nikos Kazantzakis put it like this: “I have one longing only…to discover behind the visible and unceasing stream of the world an invisible and immutable presence that is hiding…and  what is my duty?…to let the mind fall silent that I may hear the invisible calling.”

We are all refugees seeking sanctuary, and the sanctuary, the sacred and safe spaciousness awaits us within.

Let’s all agree to sit down and shut up for a while each and every day.

In our deep interior silence we drink from a sacred wellspring of peace and serenity.

In touching our interior silence we touch the sacred connection that holds all of life together.

Will you join me there?