Friday, December 15, 2006

in silencio

Another one of the unread books that I inherited from my father’s stack is “Silence In Heaven”. This is a rather large book of black and white photographs from monasteries around the world. It was published in 1955. The introduction, “In Silencio”, is an essay by Thomas Merton. Merton’s words, as well as other religious writings, accompany the photographs. The book is quite lovely.

“In Silencio” is a poetic accolade, likening the monastic vocation to the wisdom, hiddenness and silence of God.

Again, it is difficult to decide where to quote from this very rich essay. Let me start with this:

“The silence of God drives the hurricanes, and overturns the mountains and stirs up the sea and makes it roar against the cliff. It is from the silence of God that men borrow power for their machines, and it is once again by virtue of something hidden in His silence that we uproariously plough up and dissolve even the material elements that make up our fretful universe.

“It is the silence of God that forms the solid floor on which we fight our battles, and if His silence gave out beneath us we would all fall together with our cataclysms of sound into the depths of oblivion. And so, when the restless agitation of man falls still, and when his machines and his world turn over to go to sleep, everything is once again pervaded by the silence of God. Then those who remain awake – the monks and the solitaries – are able to tell by the sound of the mysterious song returning to their hearts, that all man’s noise and all his works are unsubstantial: that every new thing that can stand up and shout about itself is an illusion, and that only the everlasting silence in things is real: for it is the silence of God, buried in their very substance, singing the song which He alone can hear.” (p. 26 SILENCE IN HEAVEN)


  1. These quotes are very powerful and very menaingful to me, given a recent experience with VERY strong winds.

    Can there be a distinction between the wind and the Holy SPirit? Well I'm sure the Holy Spirit is much more but it is also the wind. It confonts one with absolute vulnerability, unavoidable acknowledgment of confrontation, accountability and mercy. No room for hedging.


  2. Yes, I also think that there can be no distinction between the Holy Spirit and the wind.

    A skeptic by nature, I once heard a Latin American woman describing a "vision" that she had had in a crowd who had gathered for an appearance of the Blessed Mother. She said "the wind that blew through her hair was the same wind that was blowing through our hair".

    Those words made me a believer.

    Stay safe, Talker. Thank you for your comments.


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