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Invitation to Lectio Divina: Thomas Merton on Silence

button-lectioWith December we offer a new invitation for contemplation. We are returning to a monthly focus on our Monk Manifesto themes. Our focus for this month is Silence. The month of December can be busy and full of noise. And so it is all the more important to take special care to cultivate true silence.

I invite you into a lectio divina practice with some words from Thomas Merton’s Thoughts in Solitude.

How Community Lectio Divina works:

Each month there will be a passage selected from scripture, poetry, or other sacred texts (and occasionally visio and audio divina as well with art and music).

How amazing it would be to discern together the movements of the Spirit at work in the hearts of monks around the world.

I invite you to set aside some time this week to pray with the text below. Here is a handout with a brief overview (feel free to reproduce this handout and share with others as long as you leave in the attribution at the bottom – thank you!)

Lean into silence, pray the text, listen to what shimmers, allow the images and memories to unfold, tend to the invitation, and then sit in stillness.

Let me seek, then, the gift of silence, and poverty, and solitude, where everything I touch is turned into prayer: where the sky is my prayer, the birds are my prayer, the wind in the trees is my prayer, for God is in all. — Thoughts in Solitude, Thomas Merton

After you have prayed with the text (and feel free to pray with it more than once – St. Ignatius wrote about the deep value of repetition in prayer, especially when something feels particularly rich) spend some time journaling what insights arise for you.

How is this text calling to your dancing monk heart in this moment of your life?

What does this text have to offer to your discernment journey of listening moment by moment to the invitation from the Holy?

What wisdom emerged that may be just for you, but may also be for the wider community?

Sharing Your Responses

Please share the fruits of your lectio divina practice in the comments below (at the bottom of the page) or at our Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks Facebook group which you can join here. There are over 2600 members and it is a wonderful place to find connection and community with others on this path.

You might share the word or phrase that shimmered, the invitation that arose from your prayer, or artwork you created in response. There is something powerful about naming your experience in community and then seeing what threads are woven between all of our responses.

Join the Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks Facebook group here>>

*Note: If this is your first time posting, or includes a link, your comment will need to be moderated before it appears. This is to prevent spam and should be approved within 24 hours!


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18 Responses

  1. Again, poverty, solitude and the beautiful forms of ice meet. Thankfulness for the rise and fall of the seasons, landscapes within landscapes.

  2. Often, I go into my favorite chapel to pray. More often than not, there is silence and solitude to be had there amid very busy and often very noisy encounters with all the preparations going on for Christmas. Sometimes, surprises and moments of grace happen in unexpected ways if we are listening and observant. This image was captured last Sunday afternoon.

  3. As we enter winter in my part of the world, the idea of poverty as gift spoke to me. There is less light, seemingly no life in the trees and plants and the wind reaches out with cold fingers. I am carrying winter as gift with me as I walk each day- in the silence that only winter gifts us with.

  4. Melton’s words speak of affirmation to me. I find my heart chimes with the silence / poverty/ solitude, especially when walking in the lovely North Yorkshire countryside. Then all is an expression of prayer…not the wordy, shopping list kind, but it all whispers ‘I am that I am’, and praise echoes through everything.
    I went to a meeting in York, and was trying to recall the lectio on the way there, when I looked over the bridge I was on, and the expanse of sky reflected on the water brought it back to me. There were a lot of Christmas shoppers jostling, but the sky reconnected me…

  5. Thank you for the lectio from Merton, my mentor. Today I find my silence and poverty in the deer near my home: expecting nothing yet receiving all that they need, they gaze at me and, perhaps, wonder why I do not live as fully in the moment as they. Their trust is prayer that God is in all and supplies all, and they invite me to share in that prayer.

  6. Thank you, Christine. I so appreciate Lectio Divina because of you. My first experience was years ago during one of the classes I did with you.
    I will write again after praying these words by Thomas Merton. Love, Jenny

  7. the mountain is my prayer as I struggle with plane noise of snow birds and no place to call hermitage…in a world so full of vacuum noise, motor bikes, off road vehicles, macho car revs, sirens… i look to the mountain where a vast expanse of the valley has been made into a reclining Buddha, or Mariano and Katherine Saubel, the Cahuilla elders who gaze out and beg us to respect the Earth Mother and all her plants and creatures.
    Only in the nighttime do I hear the Silence which is my vocation… when the world sleeps I awaken with the moon and stars until dawn and the crimson light pours beauty on the face of the Holy…

  8. Today the snow is my prayer. Steady, silent, abundant, embracing every branch and twig, nestling in the crooks of trees, capping the phoebe’s nest in the lilac bush. The snow makes my world clean and simple, sweeping away tracks and traces of people coming and going, revealing the dark bones of forest, stone house, barn, and the light expanses of field and sky, opening my heart to what is vast, necessary, patient, sustaining, enduring.

    1. thank you so much….your description touched my heart…i have not been connected to nature in the way i once was when i lived by the ocean…your words put a deep yearning in my heart.

  9. The gift of Silence must surely be a dance partner of the Listen ( the first word of St Benedict’s Rule ). It is impossible to listen in the hubbub of world, and yet, there are messages to be heard reflecting on that very noise.
    Silence has to be learned, because it is a great skill, by which one can recognise a person’s growth. The nature of a person is their solitude. Only in which does the soul and spirit develop their strength.