I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
--Rainer Maria Rilke
We do live our lives in circles. The temptation is to think that our lives are linear, but like a drop that falls into a pond and radiates outward, our lives radiate outward around us. We have a circle of influence, be it large or small.
Whether our circle is widening largely depends on the openness of our heart. I know people whose generosity and openness draws people to them. Such people are a joy to be around. They radiate love to others and though they may not even be aware of it, their circle is wide because their hearts are wide. They believe in goodness and see it present around them. As they age, their lives and hearts grow more expansive. Their humility and wisdom keeps fearfulness far from them. They have nothing to prove, protect or defend, so they can love freely, without worrying about what is “right” or “wrong.”
I also know people who live life close to the vest, not exposing themselves to risk, not revealing their vulnerabilities, not trusting the goodness of others. These people do not live in widening circles. On the contrary, their circle is small and grows smaller over time. They do not readily invite people in because they are unwilling to relinquish control and are unwilling to admit or expose their vulnerabilities. They are worried about what others think of them and concerned with presenting a particular image to the world. They may know a lot, but they do not grow wise because ego, not humility, is the driving force in their lives.
The irony is that those who seek to be people of influence are not as influential as those whose energy is focused on loving others. What we attempt to gain by force seldom works out the way we want it to. Grace and love cannot be forced. Yet when they flow freely through a person, there is no stronger attractant.
Our world needs people of humility, grace and openness. These traits are cultivated over a lifetime as we relinquish the need for control and give ourselves to love. Silence and solitude are the soil in which grace and openness grow. A daily practice of centering prayer can open one’s heart more fully over time.
Will you begin to practice a regular, daily time of silence? More than anything else, it may be what saves our world.