A priest friend who used to be the chaplain to a large hospital for the mentally ill spoke to me about the dead quiet that pervaded the place. He said it was the silence of patient files sitting on endless shelves and of staff that had given up hope in a place of shuffling feet and lost people. I can readily imagine the mental energy of such a place, a kind of emptiness and lostness where the exercise of compassion might seem to fall forgotten in a place of profound forgetting.
How might the wider community bring to such places the silence of solidarity, of remembrance of holding in loving kindness. How might a silence of deep listening and of deep presence in thought, prayer and appreciation change the energy of such places, underfunded, burdened by too much to accomplish. I imagine those endless rows of files waiting in a dusty sunlight through unwashed windows. I think of my priest friend seeking to live by the spirit of the Eucharist when so often asked why he bothered and 'we don't want religion here' comments by staff. I admire his perseverance and his noble silence as he sought to be present with a warm humanity and the light of faith in that void.