Silence & Its Force

May 18, 2023

My Dear Grandmother and Grand Kids:

Here’s my letter for today.

We have a thick marine layer this morning, even thought he pink climbing roses behind the Agonis tree are popping with dozens of flowery buds.  And our fake grass continues its perfect run.

I am reflecting upon the concept and practice of silence, today. Mainly, it’s odd because I grew up in a very busy, noisy and social household, with plenty of comings and goings. As it happened, my father’s parents, raised me because my mother, Stephania, had a mental health crisis soon after my birth and my father was in the Air Force in 1943 and for the next couple years of World War II.

My grandmother, Daisy, who raised me along with her husband, Clyde, was one of the thirteen children and some of the eight sisters visited because one lived just a few miles to the north, in Tyson, Vermont and I lived in Ludlow, Vermont, home of Okemo Mountain and when I grew up, three or four Woolen Mills.

Silence and Quaker worship were the furthest thing from my experience.

When I began thinking about this upbringing and coming to the Quakers, I wrote an article for Friends Journal  about this coming into the Quakers and here’s an electronic version of it.

Here is an electronic copy of my article, “Coming Home to Silence: The Paradox of Quaker Worship,” in the August, 2021 issue of Friends Journal and the access is this:

Quaker silence seemed to settle me, so that as I became quiet, it felt like floating into another dimension of awareness of consciousness.

I’d like to explore this with more posts, later.

Love to all,

Grandfather and Grandson Stan

Today’s Letter

May 17, 2023

My Dear Grandmother and Grand Kids:

Here’s my letter for today.

I’m sitting in my computer, looking out into the growing marine layer of the Los Angeles Great Basin to the northeast. The climbing roses are a spray of pink, especially the ones that are holding up the rotting metal fence. Why don’t we do something?

I am looking at the fake grass and the waning light in the late afternoon and thinking about you and everyone else as well.

I drove Rebecca to the Stein Eye Institute today for a consultation with her surgeon about double-vision. We spent more than 30 minutes with a young doctor, a fellow who was working with the doctor. She did all kinds of prism assessment, trying to find out what eye muscles to cut and suture back in the surgery. It was fascinating and helpful and clarified things for Monday’s surgery.

Suddenly, scooting across the heart-shaped cement patio, there were three large rabbits, running after one another or something. They can’t eat the fake grass but love the herbs we have planted and here we are.

I just want to say that every month, I help (well, mostly, it’s only myself) to organize what the Santa Monica Quakers and myself call, a contemplative reading group. It’s such a delight and so wonderful because it’s looking at various texts from Quaker and other writers, including poets, who are creative, devotional and more.

This month, I choose to look at sections of a new book by Valerie Brown, an African-American Buddhist/Quaker who happened to be one of the research participants in my study of the Quaker gathered meeting (more later). Anyway, Valerie worked closely with the great Quaker writer, Parker Palmer, he of the book The Courage to Teach and many other books as well.

Here’s what struck me and has entered into my bloodstream.

“It wasn’t what I had expected. The unexpected sense of safety and acceptance opened me up to a deeper part of myself. Feeling fluid, free, and unscripted in my body but mostly open to the presence of Mystery, I had discovered a way to listen to the call of soul through spiritual discernment, the heart of Quaker spirituality. Something stirred inside my bones and became an awakening as I realized that not just the mind but also the body held an intellect, a core awareness. My super serious, panic-driven life was pot-bound in the vessel of my body, which, like a plant that has outgrown its container, was too tight, too rigid to contain the suppleness of the soul. I was beginning to listen to the direction of my soul, to discern the path ahead.” This is from Valerie Brown’s 2022 book, Hope Leans Forward and what a wonder.

Love to all and holding you close to my heart,

Grandson and Grandfather Stan


Thank you, Mary Oliver!

Dear Grandmother and Grandkids and the world:

On my desk in the office at the edge of a small hill in Culver City, California, looking out at the pink climbing roses and the gathered marine layer on May 17, 2023, I notice a hand-written scrawl that I copied from a 2022 Christmas card from my Son’s Long Island family, urging me to follow in the creative and wondrous footsteps of Mary Oliver:

  • Pay attention
  • Be astonished
  • Write about it

That’s what this blog and these reflections will develop, open to the creative pulses of my uneven heart beats, yet the pace-maker will settle these beats and the creative work can begin.

There will be more soon and I’m so looking forward to this way to reach out to the family, to other Friends (Quakers) and to the wider culture.

Thank you, Mary Oliver, for helping me to get started in this spiritual journey.