"We Burnout When We Don’t Tune-In."
“How do we know when to speak up and when to withdraw? As a privileged person, how do I not turn a blind eye to the cause of justice but also not lose myself in a fog of screens, noise and distraction?
There are no simple answers here. We need to examine ourselves to see if our silence and stillness grows from fear or apathy or if it is the holy silence of wisdom. But the witness of the church is that action must grow from a deep well of silence and prayer.”
- Tish Harrison Warren, NY Times columnist
If you’re a social justice warrior or a natural-born empath, keep an eye on new NY Times columnist and Anglican priest Tish Harrison Warren, the author of the above passage. She recently wrote a couple of opinion essays entitled “Want to Change the World? First, Be Still” and “How Silence Became a Luxury Product.” In one of the articles, a Franciscan friar advises a passionate, cause-driven young person, “You do not have the life of prayer and silence necessary to sustain the work you are doing.” In other words, we burn out when we don’t tune-in.
I’ve spent my life burning out until I started practicing turning inward with my morning meditations and my weekly “Spying on the Divine” trips in nature. I love living in rural Baja because it’s so easy to tune-out and tune-in. There is so much spaciousness and many lovely eco-systems to enjoy. I can walk to the ocean, the desert, a tropical forest, multiple farms, and hills. If I want to get in the car, I can be in the mountains in 25-minutes. The uplifting sound of silence is everywhere, always providing me the fuel to support those who come to MEA looking for guidance.
Of course, we don’t need a natural playground in our backyard to turn inward. We can do it anywhere. Inside or outside. As Blaise Pascal once wrote, “All of man’s difficulties are caused by his inability to sit quietly in a room by himself.” Any room will do, as long as you can free yourself of distractions. The truth is, there are all kinds of places to find peace and quiet. Some of us are even making the pilgrimage to a monastery (chronicled in this recent blog).
If we are truly passionate about social justice (as many of us are), we must first create practices to change ourselves. As I learned from Teddi Dean, our MEA mindfulness teacher, “stillness and silence can restore you.” I believe it can also change the world.