Listen to the stones of the wall.
Be silent, they try
to speak your
to the living walls.
Who are you?
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.
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?”
–Thomas Merton (from “The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton)
I recently read an article on NPR news about the death of astronaut William R. Pogue, who was the first astronaut to do something unthought of: he went on strike while in space. In his obituary from the New York Times, it states that while orbiting the earth, Pogue went on strike “to demand more time for contemplating the universe.” When I read that, my jaw dropped. Knowing all of the things that astronauts have to go through to qualify for space missions, and the trust that they are given, and their rigid expectations…and yet, Pogue did something he felt was right: demand for a bit of private time to be able to think about where he is.
What a beautiful gesture. And I think it’s one we can all learn from. I cannot count the days when, after a long, tiresome day, I get home and realize how the day had whizzed by and how I spent little to no time focusing on my mere existence and appreciating the little things. I work with people who routinely work 10 and 12 hour days without taking breaks, taking conference calls and meetings and monitoring email and making phone calls…and not a second thought about quiet or stillness. I think each of us can learn a lesson from this genuinely brave man. Be attentive to your surroundings. Take some time each day to “go on strike” and appreciate where you are, what you have, and the beauty that surrounds you.
May you rest in eternal peace, and rise to eternal glory, Mr. Pogue.
William R. Pogue
January 23, 1930 – March 3, 2014
As part of my Lenten devotions this year, I have taught myself how to crochet. When I was a kid, I remember my mom crocheting almost every free chance she would get…and I always loved the beautiful afghans she would make. I never thought I would ever have the desire to learn the craft, but as I get older, I find myself drawn to simple tasks that help my brain to calm down and focus on the moment and on silence, allowing me the opportunity to relax, pray, and center myself. I’m finding crocheting to be very centering, and meditative in fact. While I crochet, I focus on my breathing, making each loop synchronize with my breath. It sends my mind into a mode where I can let my hands work in auto-drive and focus my mind elsewhere. I am enjoying these quiet moments of prayer and meditation. It’s simply beautiful, some of the ways that we can be connected with God.
the beginnings of my first afghan