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“What comes from silence”

How to be a Poet
(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill-more of each
than you have-inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your work,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

-Wendell Berry

This poem is speaking to me in a special way today.  I want to heed Berry’s advice to stay away from screens for some time and breathe in the sacredness saturating the world around me.  I am feeling tired and busy.  There is sometimes a season for busyness, and certainly I find myself in one. But today I am called to enter into the silence, listen to what it whispers, and perhaps say a few more no’s and create a bit more spaciousness.  

Maybe you’ll join me for a few moments of silence today.  Maybe in that space the voice of your heart will speak to you of what is most essential.  If it does, let me know.

I’ll be back Friday with a post in anticipation of the autumnal equinox.

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

(photo taken at the central cemetery in Vienna)

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3 Responses

  1. i didn’t visit yesterday. but today i come and with few words … actually with just one … beloved.

    inside the chapel that is this black forest, a little more than a steady breeze is pushing against all of creation. the voice of the Beloved can be heard singing, Christine …. you are Mine … you are Mine … you are Mine.

  2. It’s always a delight to stumble across another Wendell Berry fan! He has been a source of inspiration, encouragement, insight, understanding and joy for many long years now! Thank you for choosing this wonderful bit of his meaningful reflections on life. We are all blessed by what you have shared…and for the light and warmth that his words shine on our days.