Still Small: Contemplation in action

Erik Ehn


On a careful path, silence (especially collectively held) may give rise to language rooted in trust. And then the language that arises from a shared sense of mystery, directed through a covenant free of predetermined aim, recommends a program of action that relies on care and wakeful interdependence.

     There is a thread to follow from contemplation through creativity and into compassion. Patience in silence yields an excess that finds language; language inscribes mutuality; a language arising from an ethical, generous, and mutual silence promotes an ethic of hospitality.

     A model for this practice is found in Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, which adapts to a generative arts practice focused on social change.

     The art practice here is playwriting, as a case.

     The pattern of ideas: structures fundamental to the Exercises; a rationale for translating the Exercises to the art-making process; the natural coherence of volunteered, shared silence (as on a retreat, or in an intentional community) and creative output directed to solidarity and social healing. 


Playwrighting, spiritual exercises, contemplation-in-action, silence.

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