Sabbath, Silence, Song

I found a slim, battered, brick-red little book by Thomas Merton in the Wycliffe Library yesterday. For an hour on this hushed Sunday morning, I’ve pondered his words in the grey dawn light that pools and shimmers in the room around me. The light makes this small square room a still, expectant space. The words do the same for my inmost self:

Our discovery of God is, in a way, God’s discovery of us. We cannot go to heaven to find Him… He comes down from heaven and finds us. He looks at us from the depths of His own infinite actuality, which is everywhere, and His seeing us gives us a superior reality in which we also discover Him… (from Merton’s Seeds of Contemplation)

Those words widen the space and hush of my heart so that the Psalm I’m reading now is like a note of music struck in a great, echoing depth. God “finds” me in his given Word, it speaks like a shout or song into the silence of my waiting heart, and tells me who I am, each sentence blending fresh with the one before, a woven splendor of insight like music pushing against the boundaries of my heart as His life finds and fills me:

Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose His soul will abide in prosperity… The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him…

What does it mean to know the “secret of the Lord,” and how may I live out this music, the knowledge of being found by God that fills my soul? These are the musings I found on this still, bright Sabbath morning, the ones I’m about to take out into the open benevolence of God’s autumn fresh fields, and the ones I’m tossing your way, in hope that a little of this bright silence, this vibrant, melodious quiet will find you too.

Sarah Clarkson
Sarah Clarkson is an author, blogger, and student of theology at the University of Oxford. She loves books, beauty, and imagination and wants everyone else to understand why they should too. She is the author of Read for the Heart (a guide to children’s literature) and Caught Up in a Story, an exploration of the way that narrative and imagination form a child’s sense of self. She wrote The Lifegiving Home with her mother, Sally Clarkson, and blogs about home, books, Oxford, and beauty at When not chasing doctrinal mysteries down in the Bodleian, walking the meadows, or drinking another good cup of coffee, Sarah can be found at home with a good novel in the red-doored English house she shares with her husband, Thomas.

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