The following poem was delivered at the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability as part of Wednesday’s morning Reflection (June 7, 2017). It is a powerful reminder of the significance of words, of silence, of pain and communion. 

Keeping Silence

Our whispered laughter stops outside the door;
If I go in, I’ll have no will to say
My joys and pains and griefs. I must implore
His aid Who hears the muted things I pray

I pause, and let the silence speak to me.
All bird-song ceases, and all bells are dumb.
I cannot hear the wind in any tree.
If I respect the silence, words may come.

I want to shout the things that cause me pain,
Though all my cries are jumbled in my throat;
I long to sing a gentle psalm’s refrain,
Although my welling sobs still mute the note.

My silence can be holy, if I feel
The presence, and the touch, of those who care.
A gentle hand, or word, makes joy more real,
And griefs gain substance in a loving prayer.

Will you keep watch with me, my faithful friends?
Will you keep watch with me till break of day?
Oh, stay with me until my silence ends,
And pray that I will find the words to say.

Mike Walker

This poem is featured in Mike’s book of poetry, Contours of Eternity. Purchase or preview his book here. Also check out Mike’s previous post on “Pain and Promise in the Last Supper.” Mike Walker is a Th.D. candidate in systematic theology at Knox College at the University of Toronto; he’s passionate about the societal inclusion of people with disabilities and others who are vulnerable and is available to offer talks and workshops on the physical and social aspects of that hospitality. When he’s not working, he loves to exercise, read, write, sing, and just hang out with friends.