I Heard the Silence

There’s first hand knowledge and there’s second hand knowledge. The people in this true story from 1985 didn’t attend a sermon or a lecture on forgiveness and mercy – they experienced these graces for themselves. That’s powerful…

When you do something often enough,

Even the important and the sacred,

It’s easy to get into a kind of rut:

Familiarity – you know what’s bred.


I had heard many confessions before,

But two things came together that day:

The mission’s raw power to touch hearts,

And my recent visit to Medjugorje.


A good choice, to go on pilgrimage,

Just before my first parish mission;

I was spiritually turbo-charged,

And much grace came to fruition!


This confession started in usual style:

The tired list of sins to run through…

But I had a secret weapon: “Are there

Any of your sins that worry you?”


This gentle prompt, designed to break,

The unholy haste to get over and done;

Giving the penitent chance to respond:

Yes – No – or even remain schtum.


It was her silence that spoke to me:

Loud and clear, and no mistaking;

Was it just that I was graced to hear,

The mute scream of her heart breaking?


I struggle to find the words to express;

How rich, how deep, how very eloquent,

Her silence in that sacred mercy-place:

God made manifest in the sacrament…


The silence, perhaps a few moments long,

Yet held an eternity’s conversation:

“Can you find it in yourself to let go?”

My warm, sincere, and loving invitation.


Let go, she did, with a tumbling rush,

Words spilling out with gulps and tears,

Opening to healing balm the awful sore,

Which had held her bound for fifteen years.


God graced me that day to give the time,

To make the space, to extend the invitation:

Her desperate need for peace and mercy,

Heard in the hush of her hesitation.


I have stood on holy ground, in awe

At another person’s transfiguration.

I have seen beauty in the contrite soul,

And witnessed real and vital liberation.


We in the Church barely appreciate,

This Sacrament’s power for penitents:

So much grace is lost to the Church,

Thank God, for once – I heard the silence.