SILENCE was the first prayer I learned to trust when I began my visits to San Damiano. Only later did I begin to let the words in. The silence of the chapel at prayer was broken only by a habit of praise that I came to see was so primal it was not only human. It was — or it mimicked exactly — the essential utterance of existence. It rose from the raw passion which rules life, an urge which has no voice but craves articulation. This communal prayer voiced a harmony otherwise elusive in all of creation, yet thrumming in the monastic silence.