Wednesday, October 5, 2011

There are no words for the deepest things

There are no words for the deepest things.  Words become feeble when mystery visits and prayer moves into silence.  In post-modern culture the ceaseless din of chatter has killed our acquaintance with silence.  Consequently, we are stressed and anxious.  Silence is a fascinating presence.  Silence is shy; it is patient and never draws attention to itself.  Without the presence of silence, no word could ever be said or heard.  Our thoughts constantly call up new words.  We become so taken with words that we barely notice the silence, but the silence is always there.  The best words are born in the fecund silence that minds the mystery. 

As Seamus Heaney writes in Clearances,  "Beyond silence listened for..."   When the raft of prayer leaves the noisy streams of words and thoughts, it enters the still lake of silence.  At this point, you become aware of the tranquility that lives within you.  Beneath your actions, gestures and thoughts, there is a silent tranquility. 

John O'Donohue
photo:  Peter Bowers