The Sacredness of Silence

High boots squelching muddy bridleways,

Dodging puddles, barbed wire and dog-rose briars,

The brush of a hand, the squeeze of an arm;

The break of a smile with frosty lips;

The nothingness of words gives way

To communion with the one you love.


The dairy aroma, a scurrying fox,

A friendly robin, bare wintry oaks,

A tranquil sky so unconfined,

A blustery wind patterning the lake

With the wordlessness of nature

That echoes deep within.


Wood-panelled speech is incoherent

With the tinkle of cutlery on bony china.

The turn of a page, a cough, a sneeze,

The squeak of a chair, a whispered thanks.

Digestive rumblings silence

And satisfaction reigns.


The drowsy hearth awaits the bellows,

A blackbird quiet and yet poised for song,

The trickling spring eager to gush,

The branches swollen with bud pledging

Silent resurrections

That burst into the joy of life.


Retreat into silence in the dead of winter.

Attune the ear to another sound,

Ready to receive the barrage of meaning

Which will flood the understanding.

But first that deep forgetting and unknowing

The turmoil my words create.


I kneel speechless before the altar,

Bedded in straw, glazed from the world,

Transfixed by a holy presence

The meaning none should probe with words,

While a candle smoulders idly aloft

Deepening contemplation.


A weekend retreat

St Julian's, Sussex


January 1984