Lenten Poem: A Fearful Silence


A Fearful Silence

What is it you fear?
Why do you flee the silence,
the place where God lives

nestled close to your soul
like a lover,
rejected, yet still hopeful

of your heart’s return,
whispering his love
while you fill your life

with noise,
the cacophonous laughter,
seductive and false,

a pickpocket of souls,
who dance the night away
with you, then leave you in the night.

What are you afraid of?
What lies have you told yourself
so many times

that you believe them truth,
even when your journey
has shown you the corpses

of the deaf ones,
their ears and souls ringing
from the songs that distract them

from the loving whisper,
always beside you,
soft and insistent?

What are you afraid of?
What voice sings softly in the silence,
eternal, faithful, and most terrifying…..

forever forgiving.


About this Poem

My friends know that my favorite bible verse, the verse that anchors me and that I come back to again and again is Psalms 46:10. “Be still and know I am God.” I think God is found in the silence, when we turn off the world, turn off our pride and prejudices, and simply listen.

We have lost the knack of silence. We are uncomfortable with it. We fill our lives with TV, music, the internet, gatherings. None of these are bad in themselves. But when they keep us from stopping, listening, and hearing God’s love and will, they become more than a distraction, they become the enemy.

The picture was taken in the basement of the woman I love, while I was helping her stack wood a while back. Dark and spiderwebs are a touchstone for fear, so it seemed appropriate. You can click on it for a larger version.


About these Lenten Poems

My friend Cathy Benson is on to something. Instead of doing without for Lent, she is doing MORE with a prayer project that is thoughtful and caring.

Giving up something for Lent is a church tradition, not a biblical command. It was designed to get our minds and hearts right as we approach the holy week and Easter. It’s a good spiritual discipline.

But I think a spiritual discipline of doing something more is also a powerful way to prepare our hearts for Easter. The Methodists, through their “Rethink Church” initiative have come up with a photographic way to do this (see below). I am going to add a poem with each image for the lent season to help prepare myself. Feel free to glom on to the idea, visit the blog and read, or share your thoughts and prayers.


Poem: The Second Day of Snow

West Pawlet 1

The Second Day of Snow

It is snowing,
and silence reigns.
No cars pass by your house.
The neighborhood children huddle inside.
There is no wind,

Only the tiny pattering
of snowflakes,
falling like a whispered
buddhist chant,

covering our world, every moment of it,
in a white grace, forgiving and tender,
God’s kiss.


This poem was inspired by my re-reading and re-meditating on my favorite Bible verse, Psalm 46:10, which reads “Be still and know I am God.”.  It was influenced, obviously, by the fact that it is snowing for a second day here in Vermont, and by a post by a reader on “The Bells of Mindfulness.”.

It’s funny how poems come together, an odd mash of thoughts and influences, a strange stew that distills itself, often outside our own awareness, into verse. It’s magic and grace and madness, all in one.


PS – The picture was taken just at the edge of West Pawlet. You can click on it for a larger version.

Poem: Lack of Noise

West Pawlet Quarry


Lack of Noise

Sometimes you simply have to stop
and listen,
to see what is real
and what is merely
a reflection.


The photograph was taken in the quarry that surrounds much of my house in West Pawlet, VT. You can click on it for a larger version.