In our new “Reflect” series, the Center for Interfaith Relations is sharing texts that contain insight, wisdom and inspiration. Our hope is that these written words will spur meaningful reflection and serve as a beacon of hope amid challenging times.

“In Silence” by Thomas Merton

From “The Strange Islands: Poems”

Be still.
Listen to the stones of the wall.
Be silent, they try
to speak your

to the living walls.
Who are you?
are you? Whose
silence are you?

Who (be quiet)
are you (as these stones
are quiet). Do not
think of what you are
still less of
what you may one day be.
be what you are (but who?) be
the unthinkable one
you do not know.

O be still, while
you are still alive,
and all things live around you
speaking (I do not hear)
to your own being,
speaking by the Unknown
that is in you and in themselves.

“I will try, like them
to be my own silence:
and this is difficult. The whole
world is secretly on fire. The stones
burn, even the stones
they burn me. How can a man be still or
listen to all things burning? How can he dare
to sit with them when
all their silence
is on fire?”