I have always been attracted to poets who sense God’s presence in the surrounding beauty, in cool air as it touches our face, in water as it ripples across ageless stones, in a whiff of breeze across a lawn. The scene may bristle with arresting color; it may call out in the soft voice of a dove; it may arrive quietly as the moon rises over a field of wheat.

These poets are quiet enough in themselves not to impose on what they see and hear and smell and touch. They pay attention to simple detail. There is often reverence. A holy hush descends. We sense presence. God has come closer.

I ran into a poem the other day by the remarkable twentieth-century Welsh poet R. S. Thomas that lifted me momentarily out of the madness that has become our world. Listen to “The Moor”:

It was like a church to me.
I entered it on soft foot,
Breath held like a cap in the hand.
It was quiet.
What God there was made himself felt,
Not listened to, in clean colours
That brought a moistening of the eye,
In a movement of the wind over grass.

There were no prayers said. But stillness
Of the heart’s passions – that was praise
Enough; and the mind’s cession
Of its kingdom. I walked on,
Simple and poor, while the air crumbled
And broke on me generously as bread.

In the disheartening noise of our world’s squabbling, this is a church where stillness resides. I propose this is what we need in our day. This is where our hands grow open spontaneously, our hearts beat receptively. This is where we can be healed. This is not the mind’s kingdom, always scrambling to claim its territory, impose its way. This is God’s kingdom. We are drawn closer, surrendering, in praise.

But notice there is a price to pay in order to enter this church. We must still the heart’s passions, calm the mind’s constant chatter about things that don’t really matter. If we could possibly learn this kind of stillness, well, then, the air might crumble on us like a gift, abundant, free, filling.

Somehow, I walk on too, simple and poor, thinking about how I might return, over and over, to this place of stillness.