A silent prayer


25 Mar 2020

Silence and peace can be as comforting as a warm embrace.

I first came across St Michael’s quiet place, called Mingary, many years ago. I like to envisage it as the quiet place of imagination, an imagination of God.

Inside is a rock formation with water trickling into a pool below. The light is subdued and it is quiet, unbelievably so with [Melbourne’s] Collins Street and the city just outside. I step out of my busy life, out of my problems, and sit in what feels like a rock womb, for it is about giving room for the voice of God. Sometimes I write a poem, a form of prayer for me, I feel the silence, it is warm and kind. I like going to St Michael’s, I feel the protective shield of the Angel it’s named after surrounding me, like the blue sky surrounding the earth.


Usually no one else is here in the quiet place, and I need this communion with God, in turn it helps me to give back to my community. The shape of the rock, it’s almost in my imagination shaped like the nib of a fountain pen, with water flowing from it instead of ink. Sometimes I take my shoes off and sit with my naked feet upon the sacred floor.

Silence is a golden light. Sometimes all there is a profound silence and the soft feel of a loved one’s hand as they slip from life. I think about the silence of the nuns when I was screaming on the inside. I think about the silence of a smile and how powerful that is, or the silence of a kiss. I think about the Tommy tipee soother that quiets a crying child. I think about the eerie silence in the eye of a cyclone, and how the feedback from a microphone feels like the screech of chalk down a blackboard, and how I’d rather my poems be read quietly in the mind then be a spoken word poet battling it out in the pubs and bars around Melbourne.


Meditation quiets the mind. I strive for the silence of the Buddha and compassion in suffering. I think about the silence of a starry sky; the silence of a baby growing in a mother’s womb, the violence of birth breaking that silence forever; and I think about that infamous book and movie, the Silence of the Lambs. Sometimes we think God doesn’t hear our prayers or answer them because we say them in silence and are met by silence, but silence is creation. Silence travels at the speed of light.

A breath-taking view is silent. Looking into my eyes, eternity, casting a wish in a fountain, a hug, reading a book, lighting a candle are all done with silence. Wine matures in silence, gold lays buried in silence. This is why when I come to St Michael’s quiet place, I’m thankful for the silence.

When I was a child I spent my weekends sucking wine gums and reading books, and some times writing my own stories and I grew my imagination in silence. A rainbow is silent but ever so meaningful. I think wisdom is found in the silence. In a beauty that casts a thousand ships, a thought that casts a thousand words.


A virgin silence. A silent blessing. Often when I’m lonely I talk to myself, laugh out loud at jokes I’ve told myself. For years it’s been my way of coping, like beer and dope once was. But I think I’d like to change, master the silence, throw pure light at my shadow.

I imagine the silence at the top of Mt Everest. My restless heart seeks that peace. Don’t switch your prayers on auto pilot, pray with meaning, welcome the silence as your greatest teacher.

Images: Mingary, St Michael’s, Melbourne.
This article first appeared in Madonna magazine Autumn 2020 edition.

Peta Yowie is a writer living in Melbourne
Email this Print This Page