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Monk in the World Guest Post: Florence Heyhoe

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission for the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Florence Heyhoe’s reflection on contemplation and trauma.


the silence fell into me
as the sun went down
and held me in expectant
quiet in your presence
and in your absence.
tripping and tumbling
bumping into YOU
and finding me
deeper and deeper.
long lost shadows
remembered to be forgotten.
looking and seeing
as never before
tearing and restoring
and making new
colour and stitch
and torrents of tears
in the sunshine and the dark.
looking and seeing anew.
communion and
it’s beyond me
here and over there
and i can`t contain it
and i will go down and rise
up continually
ever widening spirals
rising and falling
together as one.

Silence beckoned me in my 20s and we have pursued each other ever since. Brought up in the presbyterian church in Northern Ireland it was very unusual, bizarre almost that I bought and read, “The Cloud of Unknowing” and other spiritual classics. Eventually silence tumbled into me at deeper and deeper levels both in my prayer life and daily living. Silent waiting, expectantly before God has become the norm for me because for a long, long time words have given way to silence. I seem to have been made all eyes so I notice colour, landscape, pattern, light, wild flowers and faces. These sights can stop me in my tracks and lift me to a wordless place where my spirit dances in wonder. Entering deeper into silence my response to the visual world around me also deepened and tears flow freely.

I have been living a contemplative lifestyle  since before I knew it had a name. Just over a decade ago the silence slowly took me to a place I never knew existed buried deep within. It began with tears, as I sat waiting in Gods presence they would flow in torrents. A piece of art that I produced in response to reflecting on the sense of abandonment felt by the disciples on Easter Saturday surprised me. I had reproduced a childhood nightmare so I knew that I was entering a significant time in my life.

I was able to remain faithful to this unfolding sitting with it, living it before the face of Christ. I did not know what else to do but trust the process. My body in conjunction with the releasing of emotions began to tell a story, a horrible story that unravelled my perceived history. I found myself on a road with no signposts journeying into a dark, dark forest where terror, horror, disbelief, grief, rage, pain and all sorts of unimaginables had to be faced, lived, welcomed as my truth. At times I wanted to escape this horror, did not think I could do it any more. But I persevered, seemed to find the strength, the courage, the energy to keep going. My silence had become a place of noise and volcanic eruption of emotions but Grace and a flickering light lured me to keep returning again and again to being present to giving voice to my hidden self. The deep sense of loneliness and needed isolation took me deeper into God.

In this process I have come home to myself, I am more aware of just who I am. I am becoming a fully integrated woman and I have an ever deepening intimacy with Christ. I have learned about the relationship between my body,  my emotions and spirit. I have seen the link between my art, journalling, sewing, spiritual and emotional life. I am not a great one for housework but I know that on days when I choose to declutter I am also discarding stuff on the inside. I hear myself singing songs that reflect the inner life.

I have integrated this dreadful trauma of sexual abuse into my being. I have been transformed, a new creation, who lives life at new depths. I smell roses, let the chocolate melt in my mouth, listen to the bird song, feel the soft new larch leaves and savor the changing light on the landscape. Lost in wonder, love and praise as the hymn writer penned. At 61 years of age I now have an authentic voice for I have lived what I believed and now I know, I really know. In the depths of excruciating pain I found truth, truth about self and truth about the God who resurrects in whom I have my identity and I have come home.

Florence is a textile artist living in Northern Ireland where she runs workshops in textile art and exhibits her work. She is committed to a life of transformation and creativity and feels more equipped than ever to live a life that bears witness to the Divine who transforms us into the best that we can be.

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5 Responses

  1. Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty. Thank you for affirming that “the deep sense of loneliness” took you deeper into God. This resonates for me. And, your attention to detail is beautiful, “chocolate melting on my mouth”… I can taste it!

  2. I love your phrase, “I seem to have been made all eyes…” Thank you, Florence. This is beautiful. Blessings on your path, dear heart.

  3. Thank you, Florence for sharing this, for showing us how you turned and churned the horrific into the truth of who you are, the truth of what happened integrated with the truth of roses and chocolate and birdsong. When we face and speak the truth out loud it heals and inspires us all. Thank you for trusting us to bear witness to you and your life. Thank you for your lovely poem and your inspiration.

    1. Thank you Carol, I love the phrase turned and churned it is very apt. The process continues but I have come such a long way and I want to encourage others.