Katie Snipes Lancaster
I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. Psalm 118:21
I would sit in the dimness
of my father’s wooden toolshed
waiting for the mice
to come out and feed
on the wheat we kept
in a hundred-pound sack for the chickens.
I kept silence, refusing
even to swallow, hoping the thud
of my heart wouldn’t betray me.
The only way to the sack
was over my still body.
Outside, it was Australia,
Christmas, summer holidays—
the heat unbearable to all but reptiles
and schoolboys, and the mice
who lived their small, secret lives.
When the first mouse
nosed up the unfamiliar landscape
of my body, motes of dust
floating in the beams of light
that streamed in from the cracks in the wall
After hours of sitting
through the long summer, motionless,
alert, though my limbs were asleep,
the mice accepted me.
I simply became the way to their food.
Once, as many as a dozen were on me,
each carrying a single, precious grain.
Now, years later, I find myself still
sitting in the dim light,
legs locked in meditation, monkey-mind
swinging between imagined past and imagined future,
waiting for that most obvious of hiddens,
the ungraspable present.
—Al Zolynas, “Waiting for the Present”
Give me silence, O God.
The thud of my heart,
The quiet of my breath
The only sounds that evoke my presence
Leaving room for my own listening,
Listening for you—God of the Silence.
God of the Stillness.