I like to think of poetry as describing reality rather than attempting to define it. Defining it somehow limits how it looks, takes up space, or suggests a finality that fits it neatly into the rest of what is around it as if part of some abstract puzzle. Without trying to go off the deep end philosophically, the poetry of silence is a way to look at what is and picture something deeper within, something we hadn’t thought of before, a way of looking at everyday events and people and making sense of what you see.
One day, when thinking about my favorite Lectio Divina verse, actually my only Lectio Divina verse (Phil 2:5), I thought of how those who wrote about Christ in his time trying to convey his teachings and enthusiasm through poetry, in particular the esoteric topic of the poetry of silence. The Psalms that we recite in the Liturgy of the Hours present the reader with some poetry of silence. You might be interested in a book I wrote on The Poetry of Silence. https://amzn.to/3mPM7mA
THE POETRY OF SILENCE
Once there were three women, childhood friends who met on vacation together every single year. For twenty-seven years, they met every Summer at the same house, in the same town, for three days. There would be no agenda for the time, just some wonderful exchanges of ideas of past histories, along with some new inquiries each bring to the table for discussion. One topic they discuss was creation, how it happened, the significance of what it means.
The three friends had varied backgrounds. One a scientist, one was a minister at the local church, and one was a housewife. They decided to ask each other the question, “What does reality look like?” and come up with individual responses which they would then share together. There was no trying to prove God exists, or that science was superior to religion, just their ideas.
The first woman, the scientist, had spent the whole morning thinking about the question of reality and creation and had come up with a nice presentation on how creation began with the Big Bang and that we inherit star stuff in our DNA that makes us what we are. It was eloquent and she presented it with such authority and passion that the other two women were astonished at the depth of her knowledge and ability to show the intricacies of time and matter. For her, knowledge of what was true was only enhanced by the approach to reality that says we can believe what we see and then use our mental tools to make predictions.
The second woman, a minister of some renown in her community, began with a very humble tribute to how God had entered her life and filled her with the love she never thought possible. She described her journey in life as one from moving each year a little closer to Christ. For her, love was the center of reality and the purpose of her life was Jesus.
The third woman just sat there for a long time in silence and then told them that she was so impressed by their presentations that she felt like she should not say anything. She told them that she was only a single parent with two children in college and she had no education in anything but being a mom. The two other women pressed her to continue. The only thing I can think about is how I want my children to be better than me and have loving families. I don’t think of myself as too religious but I do attend a Church down the street and help out with their food pantry now and then. It hurts me to think of children not having enough food to be healthy and happy. I don’t want my children to suffer like that, so I help others out as much as I can.
Which of these three women were correct? All of them had parts of the puzzle in their hands. What they did with these three parts of the puzzle depends on the choice they make now and in the future. Silence and solitude in each of our hearts allow God to overshadow us with his energy. This is the silence of God that allows each of us, any of us, to see how the three parts of the puzzle fit together. There are no words involved nor are their complicated thoughts as we might do when we race through reading Scripture or a book. God just is and we just sit there in the poetry of silence with profound joy. Christ makes all things new each and every day. All we have to do is just be quiet and listen profoundly (which is silence).