A poem found me this morning and struck a chord so strongly I wanted to record my thoughts around it. As synchronicity has it a friend mentioned Thomas Merton, she was looking for a book of his autobiography. I did not say anything at the time but I felt a sort of resonance (kind of like an echoing in the ethers). In a strange way I felt a resonance with his spirit and felt a kind of recognition, kinship or knowing. When my friend mentioned his name I did not know who he was. I kept feeling this strange resonating, not with the name so much but a feeling of being watched, guided or visited by him through spirit, even though I did not know who he was. I almost called my friend to share what I was feeling because it was so strong and I wanted to try to understand what it was. But instead I just allowed the experience to continue. This morning in doing a search on the internet for something else, I saw his name and it was connected to a poem.
Briefly sharing some of my thoughts and feelings from my morning contemplation (this was before the poem found me). ……Who am I? Where do I go in silence? Who am I without words? Who am I without all that is supposed to define me, yet in silence holds no meaning? Where do I go when silence is allowed to lead? Ahhhh… to bathe in silence, a liberation from self, to be absorbed in silence, to be held and loved by silence, to drift in eternity becoming the silence itself.
I now understand what the experience was about.
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, be the unthinkable one you do not know.
O be still, while you are still alive, and all things live around you speaking 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?”
Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O. (January 31, 1915 – December 10, 1968) was an Anglo-American Catholic writer and mystic. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky, he was a poet, social activist, and student of comparative religion. In 1949, he was ordained to the priesthood and given the name Father Louis.
Merton wrote more than 70 books, mostly on spirituality, social justice and a quiet pacifism, as well as scores of essays and reviews, including his best-selling autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain (1948), which sent scores of disillusioned World War II veterans, students, and even teen-agers flocking to monasteries across the US, and was also featured in National Review‘s list of the 100 best non-fiction books of the century. Merton was a keen proponent of interfaith understanding. He pioneered dialogue with prominent Asian spiritual figures, including the Dalai Lama, the Japanese writer D.T. Suzuki, and the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Merton has also been the subject of several biographies.