Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advent reading

One of the good things about having a birthday at the end of November is that it always falls close to the beginning of Advent. This inspires my dear friend Crinny to send an appropriate book as my birthday gift; last year it was Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from G K Chesterton and yesterday I received a copy of Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours

I think that everyone benefits from spending some time in silent contemplation, whether they think of it as praying or simply as time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. These lines from the introduction of the Book of Hours, taken from Merton's No Man is an Island set the scene for 'listening in silence', surely the best antidote to the frantic activity of Christmas shopping and cooking.

There must be a time of day when the man who
makes plans forgets his plans,
and acts as if he had no plans at all.

There must be a time of day when the man who has
to speak falls very silent.
and his mind forms no more propositions,
and he asks himself:
Did they have a meaning?

There must be a time
when the man of prayer goes to pray
as if it were the first time in his life
he had ever prayed,
when the man of resolutions put his
resolutions aside
as if they had all been broken,
and he learns a different wisdom:

distinguishing the sun from the moon,
the stars from the darkness,
the sea from the dry land,
and the night sky from the shoulder of the hill.


  1. You are absolutely right about silent reflection, M, and I'm so grateful for the introduction you gave me a while ago to Thomas Merton. A wonderful choice of Merton's words in your post, which I will carry with me today.

    Do hope you had a suitably celebratory day on Saturday!

  2. I shall be thinking of you throughout this sad and difficult day, D. I'm glad if Merton's words can help you.

    Thank you, I had some very nice surprises on Saturday.


I love to read your comments and promise that I will reply as soon as I can leave my garden, sewing room or kitchen!