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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Winter fruit

In silence, taste peace and joy

On Saturday I left the house and walked, alone, to the park at the end of our road. It was snowing just a little—and in the flakes, on the powdery ground, I felt a deep silence. Branches extended over the stream, each edged with snow. Amid this clearly edged, white cold, I heard the stream flowing freely.

I walked in silence. Here I felt I could pray.

Abba” bubbled up within me. Watching the stream, watching life in the cold, I repeated the word, “Abba ... Abba.” As Paul wrote: “And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ ” (Galatians 4:6).

The water wound through several hundred yards of park, reaching deeply into the forest preserve where oak leaves still hung from some of the trees, coloring the white. It was as if the park were filled with winter fruit—the fruit of peace, the fruit of joy.

So maybe this, I felt, standing there, is what Thomas Merton meant in these lines from his poem “In Silence” (Silence on Fire: Prayer of Awareness by William H. Shannon; Crossroad, 2000):

“I will try...
To be my own silence:
And this is difficult. The whole
World is secretly on fire. ...”

The world he wrote of was his fellow monks and the fire, their prayer.

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). I wonder if this familiar psalm was written in winter cold, in the stillness of a short day?


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