One of the things that I have learnt to appreciate over the past few years is that two minutes of silence to mark the importance of the occasion, to pray or reflect or just to stand. I think when words are inadequate silence is the best response, despite the fact we often resort to words to fill the gap...
Which leads me on to one of the things that has profoundly affected me over the past couple of weeks. I spent a week meeting daily with a 'prayer guide' with whom I discussed my own life of prayer, and it came out - much to my surprise - that I find a growing attraction to silence. Perhaps its because my life seems to have got busier over the past few years, perhaps its just getting older, perhaps its recognising that when it comes to God our words are nothing but inadequate (great thing for a writer to say!). Anyway, we spent most of the week discussing the importance of silence or, as would seem appropriate, sitting silently in prayer.
It was nothing short of life changing.
One thing my guide, Ann, shared with me was a poem from Gerard Manley Hopkins which talked, in Hopkins usual powerful way, of the choice for silence and stillness within which we can encounter the God beyond words. I'm not sure about copyright, this is from the 1918 edition of his works so it might be in the public domain - if anyone knows otherwise please let me know - I thought I'd share it here:
The Habit of Perfection
Gerard Manley Hopkins