Week Nine: Silence

Last night in the middle of the poetry party the electricity went off. Sky-flares peeked in windows in bold bursts, silhouetting our usual and I stared at my laptop in the dark…no internet connection… the screen illuminating the room. Boys clamored–wound up by darkness and excitement pulsed as their daddy lit candles and checked the weather on his iPhone.

We sat in the hush and listened to the wind blow the deck furniture around. It was late–after ten–so I tucked protesting boys in with candle gently flickering—thinking of Little House on the Prairie and savoring the play of warm glow on their still young faces.

I returned to the couch in the dark.

We sat in silence, he and I; listened to driving rain turn to gentle patter, watched the play of lightning on hills in the distance. For once, no hum of air conditioner, no mindless buzz of refrigerator, dishwasher was silent. All of our daily companions closed their eyes in this dark.

There was only the soft ticking of the mantle clock keeping time with faint strumming of droplets colliding with window, only to slide down and lose form in streaky stream.

We giggled a little at our loss, wondered how did they do it? with no electricity…only talk to spend. We marveled at work-filled days and talk-filled evenings and fell in to silence.

I closed my eyes in the dark and felt God sitting beside.

Silence feels good to me. I find it by sitting still. By looking deeper into what is already here.

Always a solitary child, that’s me. I can fall into His arms in the quiet and never desire to leave. All my life this is where I have rested. Safe from jabbing words of others; hidden from wound-talk.

I know it’s not that way for everyone. And lately, besieged by life and fraught with hope, I’ve been wondering, Is there another way?

…I’ve found unexpected silence-and-listening practice through poetry. You can tell when a poet has been a good listener, because the poem is more likely to capture the essence of a thing, more likely to reproduce its voice and the heart of its rhythms; it also tends to reveal dreams and burdens that may exist in the poet or the poet’s community. (L.L. Barkat, God in the Yard)

God is always the same, yes, this I know. But I have also come to learn that He loves to mix things up. He understands the human tendency to grow stale when patterns are established. He loves surprises. He likes to keep our love fresh and new. This year has been a crazy mixed up year for finding God for me. My years of early morning quiet time suddenly ceased to feel intimate. I found myself falling asleep with my cheek pressed to the dining room floor at 5 a.m. for the first time in years.

It was time for something new.

Sitting in a quiet prayer closet might be your silence sweet-spot. But maybe you’d fare better with and active approach to silence…if not writing poetry, then perhaps drawing. Walking alone is good. You might go fishing without your iPod. I can also recommend reclining on a sunny day and listening to a good game of dog dominoes. (L.L. Barkat, God in the Yard)

I find God when I run. I feel Him in my legs, in my breath, in the acceleration of my beating heart. He meets me in the sky and the trees and the way the light changes colors on the horizon.

This morning when I ran, the storm was still fresh on the sidewalk. Fallen branches and stray leaves littered the street. The creek was rushing its banks and the smell of muddy water rose dense into the air around me. A handful of black crows perched on the utility wires above me, caw, caw, caw…

As my feet pounded the pavement, I remembered a poem my dear friend Laure Krueger sent me. In it, she tells me that I am birdsong, and those words have lifted me on the darkest of days. My heart soars as I imagine music in my stride. And as I go on, I am lifted into its melody.

I fly away
flutter my
through misty
in the sky;
dip fingertips
in morning dew-
cups, silky
petals collect
evening honey,
and offer this
sweet frieze to
me in golden
shimmer of
dawn. I am
free. I am…

I grow when I look for Him in the not usual way. He loves for me to seek after Him in wild and beautiful ways. Writing poetry doesn’t seem so crazy a way to pray. Nor does running.

He’s there. He’s in it all.

This was written in response to week nine of L.L. Barkat’s God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us. Join me?


  1. says

    Ah, this is beautiful.

    Since I only have one month with L.L.’s treasured book, I am reading it and skipping most of the activities as I do a couple chapters each week.

    Being still enough to feel God’s breath in ones backyard.

    Or pounding pavement with morning workouts of physical and faith.

    Or finding His sweetness in slicing peaches and sticky countertops.

    It’s all about God in our own yards.


  2. says

    “He’s there, He’s in it all”…true, true, even when we don’t sense Him. I’m still struggling in my wait for that “new”. So I keep choosing where to set my gaze believing while I wait for that intimacy to return….

  3. says

    Being a ‘full fledged’ Oregonian I am very used to the rains and the storms and the winds batting against the windows screen.
    I love it.
    I love the silence.
    I am learning to turn off ‘noise’ and center inward to the ‘noise of my heart’ so it can heal and be heard and become restful.
    I like this writing.
    BE STILL… and KNOW that I am God… He whispers to all of us… if we listen.

  4. says

    This felt so centered, so deep and sane. Even if you feel a bit undone (which also seems to be under the surface of these words).

    Not sure how you do that, but it’s made me sigh…

  5. says

    Laura, dear Laura, I resonated with this post, so. I run, too, every day, and pound prayer into pavement. And his voice is always with me on those runs. I’ve found him in the wash of air against cheek, in the cool of morning breath. This is newness, no? Revival. Love to you. e.

  6. says

    You write of that feeling of being “besieged by life”. Margaret Wheatley, in her wonderful little book that I featured yesterday, writes that when that kind of feeling arises, “it’s good practice to surprise ourselves with new behaviors. . . to be different… [A]s soon as we take the risk of trying something different, freedom greets us… Whatever we do that’s different releases us from the familiar; any change introduces us to the space of possibilities rather than the confinement of habitual patterns… Frustration is a guide to freedom, if we recognize its signals.”

    Your looking for Him “in not the usual way” seems to embody Wheatley’s argument for opening into “the space of possibilities”.

  7. says

    Breathing deeply, feeling full after reading your words and the lovely comments. Your poem is such a beautiful way to pray. Priceless, it was a bird song that started the flow of words for morning pages today.

  8. says

    I have not been able to run, or even power walk, and have been trying to find something new to replace this time I cherish ( my one attempt left me paying for it , doctors orders ).
    I have been taking my camera to soccer, something I normally don’t do , and wandering off in the half hour or so before the game, into meadows and fields and bird song.
    He’s there too of course.

    and in you. and here.

  9. says

    I think of the the Words in the Bible when I read your post. Aren’t those prayers written in poetry form? Nothing wrong at all with writing poetry like prayer as a way to honor, glorify, and speak to God. He put those words in you. Sometimes, I even forget when I blog that I am actually speaking to God aloud.

  10. says

    This resonates Laura. I sometimes feel it is all so “rote” and then I walk alone and suddenly it is easy conversation. He speaks in the birdsong and whispers through the trees. I sometimes find myself weeping as I walk and pour out my heart to Him. Yes – He is with us.

  11. says


    I love silence. It is rare to find it. As I read this I have a rare moment. No one home but me and the dog. Cicada (sp?) singing outside as the sun hangs low. The one clock with hands that I hang on to ticking away in the kitchen and the sound of these keys as I type. That is all.

    That, and the unmistakable (in this moment) feeling of being part of the body of Christ. With God right there in the middle and Spirit hovering over it all.

    Thanks for these words. Each one a gift.

  12. says

    This, I love about Him. He wants to be found.

    Silence, noise; dark, light. Change it up at will (or not). He’s there.

    Beautiful, Laura. As always. And alas, perhaps I have to move this book up closer to the top of the list…

  13. says

    This reminds me of the night the lights went out in our neighborhood. The peace that ensued as we ate by candlelight, no electronic distractions. We walked around with flashlights, invited the guys to a game at the kitchen table. They retreated to their rooms, reading by flashlight. Hubby and I moved outside under the Theatre of Stars created by our maker. Heavenly!

    post at http://openmyearslord.blogspot.com/2010/06/restored-in-dark.html

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