Listen to the stones of the wall.
Be silent, they try
to speak your
to the living walls.
Who are you?
are you? Whose
silence are you?
Who (be quiet)
are you (as these stones
are quiet). Do not
think of what you are
still less of
what you may one day be.
be what you are (but who?)
be the unthinkable one
you do not know.
O be still, while
you are still alive,
and all things live around you
speaking (I do not hear)
to your own being,
speaking by the unknown
that is in you and in themselves.
“I will try, like them
to be my own silence:
and this is difficult. The whole
world is secretly on fire. The stones
burn, even the stones they burn me.
How can a (human) be still or
listen to all things burning?
How can he (or she) dare to sit with them
when all their silence is on fire?”
-Thomas Merton, from The Strange Islands: Poems by Thomas Merton
**The gorgeous icon above is by Father William Hart McNichols at St. Andrei Rublev Icons — Hagia Hesychia or Holy Silence)
** I will be taking a few days of Holy Silence through the weekend. Please return on Sunday for a celebration of resurrection and then on Monday for our next Poetry Party — the end of our Lenten fast! Blessings of holy grief and new life in the days ahead. **
© Christine Valters Paintner at Abbey of the Arts:
Transformative Living through Contemplative & Expressive Arts
I will be fasting from all internet, radio, TV, and other electronic communications, including radio, MP3, CD, DVD, everything, in order to create some much needed holy silence in my life.
The icon and poem are beautiful thank you for sharing them.
I love your phrase “Blessings of holy grief.”
Blessings to you in these days of mystery and silence, and celebration.
hmmm. i excerpted this poem just last thursday for my own post. it was included in merton’s book of hours. thanks for reminding me again. :-)