drop photo

Even at noon the Friday traffic was miserable, mostly 30 mph from north of Seattle to south of Tacoma. It took us four hours to make the two-hour trip from Whidbey Island to St. Placid Priory in Lacey, WA.

Janice had been to the priory before. When she invited me to join her for two nights of peace and Benedictine hospitality, it took me about a nanosecond to say yes. I drove and Janice navigated. In the stalled traffic we kept each other entertained with talk and observations, talk and shared stories from our lives, talk and lots of laughter. As the traffic and the time threatened to make us cranky, we even planned a comedy routine for writers. And we were both very ready to arrive and exhale at the St. Placid Spirituality Center.

What followed from the moment we arrived was very special, and difficult to describe. As we were leaving the priory on Sunday morning, Janice said, “I feel so relaxed, and slightly stoned.” So did I, and it was a few days after I returned home that I condensed that lovely feeling into a poem. With deep gratitude to the Sisters of St. Placid Priory, this was my experience:

A Drop of Holy Silence

Like a housewife coaxing flies out of her kitchen,

Sister Lucy gently shooed the noisy day away,

urged this weary traveler in, and shut the door.

Once inside I was received and fed,

and had my fill of sleep. When daylight came

I woke enveloped in a mystic element

like something from a sacramental font:

a drop of deep and holy silence.

Effortlessly I sank into it.

No need to dive, nor struggle to discern

some faint instructions from Divinity

hidden in its depths, nor work at keeping thoughts

above a waterline. Not floating,

not drowning, no effort to breathe

in that living molecule of holy welcome

large enough to embrace me

small enough to be held in the palm of a nun’s hand

solid enough to be carried in her pocket

as she went about her day,

praying for me as she promised.


I’ll definitely be going back again. There is a welcome waiting there for you as well. Check it out at http://www.stplacid.org/

Blog post by Cynthia Trenshaw, Author of Meeting in the Margins: An Invitation to Encounter Our Culture’s Invisible People, available at your local bookstore, or from Amazon.com.

26 replies
  1. Alison Heins
    Alison Heins says:

    This poem is a gem! With a gentle inhale I felt invited into the silent, sacred space myself, shooing away those flies of distracting thoughts. How well the monastics understand the alchemy that creates a sacred space! I am easily there in my imagination. Thank you, Cynthia, for sharing this experience!

  2. Kathryn Harja
    Kathryn Harja says:

    I saved my reading of this until this morning when I am going into an hour of silence with my heron clan. Perfect, brings back to me my memories of Sister Lucy and the deep welcome there and holy silence indeed. Thanks for sharing

  3. Mike Trenshaw
    Mike Trenshaw says:

    As usual, your poetry has whisked me off to another place. Though I wonder….am I the only one here interested about the ‘comedy routine for writers’ you mentioned?

    • Cynthia Trenshaw
      Cynthia Trenshaw says:

      Ah, I knew I’d catch SOMEone with that bait! My friend Janice taught for years at the Seattle Police Academy, and we were playing with the idea of creating a penal code for poets! I promise I’ll let you know when she and I actually get something on paper. (Her husband is a former assistant police chief of Seattle, so we thought he could lend gravity to the routine.)

  4. Linda Albert
    Linda Albert says:

    I loved your blog and thought your poem was magnificent. I have carried that small drop of silence with me all day – since you and the nun who carried it in her pocket and promised to pray for you – made it real for me as well. Many thanks for your splendid writing. Sending love, Linda Albert

  5. Glo
    Glo says:

    “no need to dive, nor struggle to discern some faint instructions from Divinity hidden in its depths.”

    So delicious! Thank you, Cynthia.

    • Cynthia Trenshaw
      Cynthia Trenshaw says:

      Effortless spirituality – except for the effort of just showing up! Thanks for all you do, Glo, to help folks learn how to just show up.

  6. Cynthia Trowbridge
    Cynthia Trowbridge says:

    Reading this wonderful poem took me back to my own experience at Christ In the Desert, a Benedictine Monastery in northern New Mexico, where I became deeply present in sacred space. Simply present. Thank you

    • Cynthia Trenshaw
      Cynthia Trenshaw says:

      There are lots of places and ways to experience this simple gift, but it seems to be easier or more accessible among the Benedictines for whom hospitality is a key principle.

  7. Chris Belding
    Chris Belding says:

    Ah, Cynthia…your poem entranced me and brought back memories of how I felt for nearly two weeks after my mother died. While certainly busy with all the details following someone’s death, I felt as though I was in a divine “bubble” of protection.

    • Cynthia Trenshaw
      Cynthia Trenshaw says:

      It’s a delicious place to be. Even on the heels of a loss and in the midst of grieving,it’s beautiful.


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