Good Zeal

The proliferation of silence

“Take with you words,” wrote the prophet Hosea. His context (14:2) was confession and conversion, but the phrase somehow seems to capture the essence of compressing two graduate courses and an entire semester’s worth of words into five weeks. I have taken so many class notes that the ink has run out of two pens and I’ve had to purchase a third. My spiral notebook overflowed and I had to begin a second. With three papers down and one to go, I fear the laptop will soon overheat from overuse. Words have been proliferating prolifically, and when I depart Saint John’s one week from today, I will take with me words.

But yesterday, with my third paper completed, I left my words on the shore and took a kayak out onto Lake Sagatagan. Another Sister accompanied me, and though we spoke a bit, we mostly paddled desultorily across calm waters and let the loons do the talking. The air was filled with reverence. The sun shone without need for comment. The translucent lake revealed quiet life beneath the surface. In the distance, a bald eagle circled, dived, and lifted prey from the water. A shoreline patch of lily pads gently tapped against the hull as I roused them from their afternoon nap. There were no words, no pens, no paper, no rat-a-tap of fingers on an overused keyboard. Just the proliferation of silence.

Over these past weeks, I have delighted in words – in class, in conversation, in prayer, in writing. But as the words have accumulated, I’ve also kept silent vigil within, letting the words of scripture settle deeply, proliferating in silence. No matter whether we are in school or out, may we all cultivate the fertile soil of silence in which the Word of God may “blossom like the lily, and strike root like the Lebanon cedar (14:5).”

Postscript: One more week here in Collegeville, then back home to Sacred Heart… Speaking of words, through letters and email the Sisters have kept me up to date on what’s happening at the monastery. For the latest word, here’s the link.

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