Gary Percesepe

The Silence

In Psalm 131, we find the psalmist in a qui­et mood; there is noth­ing but quiet­ness and con­fi­dence: “I have calmed and qui­et­ed my soul … hope in the Lord from this time on and forever­more.”

Brother Roger of Taize reminds us that at times prayer becomes silent. Peaceful com­mu­nion with God can do with­out words. “I have calmed and qui­et­ed my soul, like a weaned child with its moth­er.”

When I trav­elled to the vil­lage of Taize, in France, it was late December. This time of year always reminds me of that holy place. Then it was windy and snow­ing faint­ly, then rain­ing. I could hear the rain lash the win­dows of my small room.

Sometimes we are appar­ent­ly silent, and yet we have great dis­cus­sions with­in, strug­gling with imag­i­nary part­ners or with our­selves,” Brother Roger observed. “Calming our souls requires a kind of sim­plic­i­ty.”

The Psalmist locat­ed this sim­plic­i­ty: “I do not occu­py myself with things too great and too mar­velous for me.”

And then there are these words from Brother Roger: “Silence means rec­og­niz­ing that my wor­ries can’t do much. Silence means leav­ing to God what is beyond my reach and capac­i­ty. A moment of silence, even very short, is like a holy stop, a sab­bat­i­cal rest, a truce of wor­ries.”

Gary Percesepe is an edi­tor at New World Writing.