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Invitation to Poetry: Thomas Merton on Silence

Robin Lake - Poetry Party PhotoWelcome to Poetry Party #82!

I select an image and suggest a theme/title and invite you to respond with your own poem. Scroll down and add it in the comments section below or join our Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks Facebook group and post there.

Feel free to take your poem in any direction and then post the image and invitation on your blog (if you have one), Facebook, or Twitter, and encourage others to come join the party!  (If you repost the photo, please make sure to include the credit link and link back to this post inviting others to join us).


We began this month with a Community Lectio Divina practice with a quote from Thomas Merton and followed up with our Photo Party on the theme of Silence. (You are most welcome to still participate).  We continue this theme in our Poetry Party this month. What are you continuing to discover about silence in this darker season of the year? We welcome your poetic reflections.

This month’s photo is by Robin Lake and she explains it as such:

Solitude, stillness and being present to the moment have been my focus for 2014. Just last night, I was sitting in my car after a holiday gathering downtown and once again was struck by how the holy is everywhere. The neon lights of the city became jewels in the mist of my windows, rivulets casting shadow on the altar of my dashboard. Passing cars became the sounds of ocean waves as they processed down the wet streets. I became lost in the wonder of the moment, reflected in the ordinary. My heart is full.

You can post your poem either in the comment section below* or you can join our Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks Facebook group (with more than 2600 members!) and post there.

*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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50 Responses

  1. dusk over lake ainsworth

    in mirrored stillness
    russet tea tree
    glows bridesmaid pink

    maypole ribbons ruched
    vermillion aubergine tangerine
    in quietness

    its expanse like arms outstretched
    to receive and enfold
    comforts for the impending dark

    a duck’s silent wake
    breaks the spell

    with a hush the evening sighs
    slowly curling down for sleep

    colleen keating

  2. this poem is about silence

    words get in the way of silence
    it needs a blank page
    it needs space
    in silence there can be longing
    there can be anticipation
    intimate or hostile

    you can hear it
    in the pin-drop moment
    between bow and string

    you can feel it between breaths

    the inarticulate uses violence
    for expression
    is this silence?

    when one turns their back
    their silence is palpable
    and what of silence imposed in fear?
    anonymity is powerful and loud

    a silent protest is loud

    when the powerless stitch their lips together
    with needle and fishing line
    is this silence
    even as tears fall?

    a poem about silence
    needs to be loud
    to be heard

    1. Mutual admiration, then ~ ‘a poem about silence needs to be loud’ …’a silent protest is loud’…. The point is so beautifully made!

  3. Word weary, she collapsed, relinquishing every syllable
    that didn’t quickly hide in a pleat or a pocket.
    The longer she stayed in one place, the lighter she felt.
    Even her backpack nearly floated from the emptying.

    All the words she had strung together
    in letters, in conversations, in prayer –
    especially in prayer – fluttered to the floor in surrender.

    There was just the faintest sound of a light drizzle
    decorating the window.
    She smiled faintly, wondering if God was weary of her words as well.
    Maybe God had been missing her. Just her.
    As they sat, together now, the wall of chatter

    Leaning into the stillness, she knew.
    God was speaking to her, hearing her. Just her.

    1. Carolyn love your poem . . means a lot to me. I am from Australia and my poem is more a social justice poem. It is about the asylum seekers here in Australia that are not being treated correctly because of political issues.
      Well I have two the second is just a contemplative poem about a tea tree lake which is very good to swim in although it has a rusty colour.!!

    2. Carolyn,

      I have been back here to read and re-read your poem countless times. I cannot begin to tell you the ways that it weaves itself into my soul. I may have to take my original photo and put these words next to it in my quiet place in my home. If you don’ t mind…

  4. Love Affair with the Mountain
    Beneath the rumbling, searing skies,
    I ponder: Why am I here… Why do I stay?
    And a whisper comes like a song in my heart,
    Can you imagine the Glory of the Morn?
    As the crimson rays of dawn
    Fall upon the entire expanse of mountain range,
    As if awakening to greet the splendor of a new day,
    The snow capped heights are like Mt Kailish of the Himalayas,
    Calling forth one’s spirit to transcendent realms,
    I gaze upon her and she gazes back…
    With the breath of new life she bids the Spirit
    To renew the face of the earth,
    To behold the desert landscape in all its primal beauty
    Green chapparel against endless dunes of sandy beige,
    Pristine blue skies hugging the earth mother with Infinity,
    After awakening – the reclining Buddha or Christ image,
    Or Cahuilla elders, Catherine and Mariano,
    Take on shades of purple hues and darkness again,
    As clouds become a blanket of moving, swirling patches,
    I am awake with her, my Beloved Mountain,
    And singing with praise and gratitude in the name of all humanity,
    Blessing with the twirl of gladness…
    So that our Garden of the Gods,
    Is one born in the Stillpoint…
    Where all can see and hear the Glory of His Voice

    1. Is one born in the Stillpoint…

      This word evokes the core of the theme of “SILENCE”
      Can there be truly be an instant of silence without a total letting go of the present moment?
      At the core of the storm – the core not seen – is this space, not empty by filled with silence and peace!

      Thank you!

      1. Is one born in the Stillpoint…

        This word evokes the core of the theme of “SILENCE”
        Can there truly be an instant of silence without a total letting go of the present moment?
        At the core of the storm – the core not seen – is this space, not empty but filled with silence and peace!

        Thank you!

  5. Light attracts, nearly magnetic in its pull. December light shines holy while September light does not. I am drawn to the light unreasonbly. Is it to fill what I perceive that I lack? Are these lights of hope?
    Think of a time when you walked on the street. It had rained and the moisture stayed in the air. Clear light seemed to glow. Now out of focus, the street (and world) change.
    The commercial glare of neon becomes a piece of beautiful art.
    I too want to be beautiful. World, take off your glasses and see my glow!

  6. Through the wet window
    I see as through tears

    To see the world through tears
    is to see it new

    To see new through tears
    is to open a scripture of beauty

    To read that beauty through tears
    is to embrace the world

    To embrace the wet world
    is to feel God’s embrace

    1. So very lovely to read this on Christmas Morn…so many lines of deep rich soul life…”scripture of beauty, and “beauty through tears,’ “to embrace the wet world”…just beautiful Janice…thank you for the gift …

  7. Listen

    Sounds of the street.
    Parents yelling out dinners.
    Horns and hounds.
    The hum of humans.

    Sounds of the street.
    Softens with streams
    and drips and drops.
    Now listening for the divine.

    a field of healing herbs under a full moon sky, springing fresh and sweet from dark, fertile soil…

    a velvet cloak in sapphire blue, enveloping me in comfort and warmth…

    golden light spilling from the windows of my house, welcoming me home and inviting me in…

    my lover’s arms, strong and sure, holding me secure & safe & cherished…

    a chapel at midnight, infused with the fragrance of blessed candles, sanctified by the adoring devotion of the faithful…

    1. One more, because so many of my holy moments are in the stillness and solitude of night…

      Sacred night, deep and mysterious, embracing me in velvet shadows,
      while gentle moon softly beams a crescent smile down on me.

    2. Your words are luscious and I can feel the grains of your words, like the ink from a pen, sweeping within me as I listen to your lovely writing…thank you for the beauty of your sacred silence,

  9. This is something I wrote a few weeks ago but it goes well with the theme.


    Is beautiful
    Time for quietness
    Peace, rest

    Is hard
    Much too quiet
    Sorrow, loneliness

    Is beautiful
    Time for reflection
    Hope, Joy

    Is hard
    Much soul searching
    Layers peeling

    Is beautiful
    Look to God
    Be grateful

    1. Beautiful, Gayl. “Stillness is hard, much too quiet, sorrow, loneliness, discord.” Stillness IS hard, no doubt about it. If I can get through my worries, distractions, everything that pulls me away, that is when I feel Him, in the stillness.

    2. Thanks for sharing this, Gayl. I especially like the thought “stillness is beautiful, time for …wonder” Lovely!