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In Silence

Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk known for essays, letters, and writing books. He was an artist and poet, as well.

Sabbath is a retreat from the busyness encountered in daily life. It is less about separation from the world and more about finding bridges linking us with the world and others in the world. The word treat suggests healing and making whole.

We seek bridges allowing us to let go of baggage we carry and skeletons we dance with. Parker Palmer used Thomas Merton’s writing explaining the need for peace, solitude, and silence in life. This is not a withdrawal, but a different way of encountering the world and hearing the words it speaks more clearly.

Part of Taoism is seeking principled paths and ways forward. Parker Palmer and Thomas Merton drew on this thinking in expressing a need for silence in life otherwise the noise of daily life is deafening.

Be still.
Listen to the stones of the wall.
Be silent, they try
to speak your

name.
Listen
to the living walls.

Who are you?
Who
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.

Rather
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 man be still or
listen to all things burning?
How can he dare to sit with them
when all their silence is on fire?”

About ivonprefontaine

I have been an educator for almost 20 years. Prior to that, I worked in private industry for 15 years, then returned to university to earn my education degree. For the past 11 years, I have been a co-creator of learning in a unique, progressive, alternative educational school of choice. Currently, I am engaged in a doctoral program at Gonzaga University in Spokane. A main theme in my learning there has been the roles of systems thinking, complexity theory, and organizational theory, and how they apply to education generally and the learning environment I share with students, parents, and colleagues.

18 responses »

  1. Wonderful post, Ivon. There is so much to hear in the silence. Why anyone would avoid it when it can be so rich is so very sad. So poignant, this statement, “We seek bridges allowing us to let go of baggage we carry and skeletons we dance with.” Thank you.

    Reply
  2. dancing flame
    ~
    silence
    with many
    around the fire

    Reply
  3. Yes, it is about calming the chatter of the mind so we can hear the message of the small still voice. Have a lovely Sabbath, Ivon! xoM

    Reply
  4. Parker Palmer sounds like my kind of man.
    I couldn’t live without the ‘sound of silence’. Sometimes even the chatter of friends and family interrupt my thoughts and while I love to see them, I also love the time when they’re absent and all is quiet.

    Reply
  5. Love Merton. Collect quotes and read passages of his often.

    Reply
  6. Thank you! I bought a book by TM a few months back, but have not really looked at it yet. Everything happens when it is supposed to….you just reminded me to take another look! Have a super Sunday!

    Reply
  7. The last part of “how can…” is so true and so sad…. Thank you, Ivon.

    Reply
  8. Merton is worth reading, again and again. Always makes me think.
    Thanks for this.

    Reply

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