the gentle art of knowing offers opportunities for
retreats and sabbaticals
any activity that supports people to deepen their understanding of themselves and their place in the world.
We use this support and strength to live more fully and to
grow in greater ease, appreciation and compassion.
During last year I was listening to a discussion on National Radio about the subtle and not so subtle benefits of being a bi or multilingual speaker. Some of the benefits are that such people can:
- expand their personal horizons — being simultaneously insiders and outsiders — see their own culture from a new perspective not available to monoglots, enabling the comparison, contrast, and understanding of differing cultural concepts;
- have a stereoscopic vision of the world from two or more perspectives and not be restricted to a single world-view. They can have a more flexible and better understanding that other outlooks are possible and desirable;
- gain insights into other cultures so better understand and appreciate people of other countries, thereby lessening racism, xenophobia, intolerance and exclusion;
- gain greater appreciation and insights into one’s own language and culture.
It was Charlemagne (742-814) who said that “to have another language is to possess a second soul”.
Now in a not so subtle segue we could say that these benefits are similarly sought through religion and spirituality. So is there value in similarly broadening our spiritual base to more consciously include other ‘languages’? Languages such as gardening as spiritual practice, art and poetry as spiritual practice, parenting and work as spiritual practice, noticing beauty as spiritual practice, ageing as spiritual practice, consciously breathing as spiritual practice and opening our hearts to aspects of Buddhism, Hinduism and other traditions and denominations as spiritual practice?
The Benedictine monk, Mary Lou Kownacki, said in a poem:
Old Monk has given her life to the Great Scripture
poring over its texts since seventeen.
Now in old age she finds it predictable,
too much black and white,
even in the margins.
With contentment she puts aside the Book
and reaches instead for a poet's insights.
How much closer the poet's questions
seem to the mind of God
than certainties etched in stone on the child's soul.
This year I am offering a more ‘multilingual’ approach to deepening our contemplative response to Life, in the hope that we all continue to awaken. As Thomas Merton said in New Seeds of Contemplation ‘be touched by Him who has no hands’.