But the languages of men have become empty


Where the winds blow in every room.

Strange spirits sing in them.

This poetic excerpt taken from The Legend of the Tower (1957) by the Trappist monk Thomas Merton evidences his dismay with what passed as communication in his time: a brokenness that replicates the Genesis story of another tower—that of Babel.

Heinous pride fired the builders of both towers, intent upon becoming godlike, only to implode and disintegrate into bleak ruins where nothing survives. In our times, their repercussions still rankle. In place of builders using brick and bitumen,

spin-doctors use words to manipulate denizens of planet Earth: Words shimmy between half-truths, words pale with abuse, words thin with repetition, words spin pretenses, words traipse in circles, and words conceal trickery. Self-honesty appears illusory, outdated.

Only within the ambiance of silence can a word’s significance be felt and experienced in its abundant richness. Yet, not many cultivate this precious inwardness from which teems abundant life. White noise from whatever source appears to be the norm.

But not to despair—Merton’s The Legend of the Tower contains a second part devoted to rebuilding the City of God. The Prophet proclaims:

It will be a perfect city…built by the thought and the silence and the wisdom and the power of God…You and I are the stones in the wall of the city. Let us run to find our places. Though we may run in the dark, our destiny is full of glory.