Wayne Muller

Wayne
Muller
1939
2011

American Minister, Therapist, Community Advocate, Consultant, Public Speaker and Author, Founder of Bread for the Journey, Senior Scholar for the Fetzer Institute

Author Quotes

What if the healing of the world utterly depends on the ten-thousand invisible kindnesses we offer simply and quietly throughout the pilgrimage of each human life?

What is at the center of your life? Carefully examine where you spend your attention, your time. Look at your appointment book, your daily schedule…. This is what receives your care and attention--an by definition, your love.

When we come close to those things that break us down, we touch those things that also break us open. And in that breaking open, we uncover our true nature.

When we live without listening to the timing of things, when we live and work in twenty-four-hour shifts without rest – we are on war time, mobilized for battle. Yes, we are strong and capable people, we can work without stopping, faster and faster, electric lights making artificial day so the whole machine can labor without ceasing. But remember: No living thing lives like this. There are greater rhythms, seasons and hormonal cycles and sunsets and moonrises and great movements of seas and stars. We are part of the creation story, subject to all its laws and rhythms.

Within sorrow is grace. When we come close to those things that break us down, we touch those things that also break us open. And in that breaking open, we uncover our true nature.

Your life is not a problem to be solved but a gift to be opened.

Gratefulness slows time. For those close to death, there is little time to waste. When we give thanks for each moment, when we say a silent “thank you” for every meal, every touch, every morning, then we truly feel the richness and breadth of our lives, and things do not go by quite so fast.

We are called to be strong companions and clear mirrors to one another, to seek those who reflect with compassion and a keen eye how we are doing, whether we seem centered or off course ... we need the nourishing company of others to create the circle needed for growth, freedom and healing.

If busyness can become a kind of violence, we do not have to stretch our perception very far to see that Sabbath time – effortless, nourishing rest – can invite a healing of this violence. When we consecrate a time to listen to the still, small voices, we remember the root of inner wisdom that makes work fruitful. We remember from where we are most deeply nourished, and see more clearly the shape and texture of the people and things before us.

We don't have the wisdom required to hear what is truly necessary to hear right action, right understanding, right livelihood. We inadvertently break things even as we try to fix them. Our busy-ness becomes a kind of violence because it destroys the root of inner wisdom that makes work fruitful. On one level, suffering comes because we inadvertently bring harm to the world that we're trying to help whether we're raising money to pay the bills, serving the homeless, or feeding the hungry. Having been in non-profit worlds for twenty-five years, I can say that the faster we go, the more we unintentionally mishandle the ones we love. They become an object of our ambition rather than the subject of our heart's attention, which requires a certain amount of time and company as well as money.

If we believe that this particular pain is the one that will push the baby out of the womb and into our arms, we somehow try to make a place for that pain in our heart. Pain is still there: excruciating, terrible pain. But at the moment of birth, we rarely feel betrayal or rage; we somehow feel that this is simply pain that has come with life.

In that inevitable, excruciatingly human moment, we are offered a powerful choice. This choice is perhaps one of the most vitally important choices we will ever make, and it determines the course of our lives from that moment forward. The choice is this: Will we interpret this loss as so unjust, unfair, and devastating that we feel punished, angry, forever and fatally wounded-- or, as our heart, torn apart, bleeds its anguish of sheer, wordless grief, will we somehow feel this loss as an opportunity to become more tender, more open, more passionately alive, more grateful for what remains?

In this light the Sabbath prescription is a loving reminder to take full advantage of a condition that already exists. At rest, our souls are restored. This is the only commandment that begins with the word “remember,” as if it refers to something we already know, but have forgotten. It is good. It is whole. It is beautiful. In our hurry and worry and acquiring and working, we forget. Rest, take delight in the goodness of creation, and remember how good it is.

Just because we are working hard does not mean we are making anything happen.

Like a path through the forest, Sabbath creates a marker for ourselves so, if we are lost, we can find our way back to our center.

Our civilization canonizes desire as the engine that drives our monetary system, which is sad because desire, by definition, is based on dissatisfaction. When you're satisfied, your desires melt away. When you have a nice meal, your desire to eat more disappears. When you have a relationship with someone you love, the desire to run off and meet somebody else naturally falls away. Whenever we're satisfied with what we have, desire dissolves of its own accord. We place desire on the altar of our civilization.

Perhaps the greatest wealth you possess, the most precious, valuable gift you can ever hope to offer any human being, is this one, simple, true thing: You. Your presence. Showing up. Being in the company of another, undistracted, unhurried, with an open heart, gentle hands, and a patient soul. Willing and able to listen, do something or do nothing, willing to be surprised by whatever emerges in the soil of your present, loving company with another human being.

All life has emptiness at its core it is the quiet hollow reed through which the wind of God blows and makes the music that is our life.

Sabbath requires surrender. If we only stop when we are finished with all our work, we will never stop, because our work is never completely done. With every accomplishment there arises a new responsibility... Sabbath dissolves the artificial urgency of our days, because it liberates us from the need to be finished.

All life requires a rhythm of rest.

Some of us have a hard time believing that we are actually able to face our own pain. We have convinced ourselves that our pain is too deep, too frightening, something to avoid at all costs. Yet if we finally allow ourselves to feel the depth of that sadness and gently let it break our hearts, we may come to feel a great freedom, a genuine sense of release and peace, because we have finally stopped running away from ourselves and from the pain that lives within us.

And so we are given a commandment: Remember the Sabbath. Rest is an essential enzyme of life, as necessary as air. Without rest, we cannot sustain the energy needed to have life. We refuse to rest at our peril—and yet in a world where overwork is seen as a professional virtue, many of us feel we can legitimately be stopped only by physical illness or collapse.

The ancient rabbis teach that on the seventh day, God created menuha—tranquility, peace, and repose—rest, in the deeper possible sense of fertile, healing stillness. Until the Sabbath, creation was unfinished. Only after the birth of menuha, only with tranquility and rest, was the circle of creation made full and complete.

Bless strangers quietly, secretly. Offer it to people you notice on the street, in the market, on the bus. "May you be happy. May you be at peace." Feel the blessing move through your body as you offer it. Notice how you both receive some benefit from the blessing. Gently, almost without effort, each and every blessing becomes a Sabbath.

The greatest barrier to own healing is not the pain, sorrow or violence inflicted upon us as children. Our greatest hindrance is our ongoing capacity to judge, to criticize, and to bring tremendous harm to ourselves. If we can harden our heart against ourselves and meet our most tender feelings with anger and condemnation, we simultaneously armor our heart against the possibility of gentleness, love and healing.

Author Picture
First Name
Wayne
Last Name
Muller
Birth Date
1939
Death Date
2011
Bio

American Minister, Therapist, Community Advocate, Consultant, Public Speaker and Author, Founder of Bread for the Journey, Senior Scholar for the Fetzer Institute