Silence

Photo by Pamela Crane
Photo by Pamela Crane

This afternoon, I ate lunch while sitting on the back steps and watching the grass grow. Honest. In the past week, the lawn has gone from winter-weary to wild-jungle. How is it already time to mow? Spring has barely sprung.

And I am so grateful. So grateful for the baby green leaves on trees, purple crocuses in gardens, bird song in the air. So grateful.

*

The end of my semester is near. My busy schedule is winding down. As I pause to eat outside today, I realize I’m not cooped up inside an office or my house. I’m not reading or watching tv to occupy my mind. I’m just sitting and watching the grass grow. The birds chirp, but in my mind is silence.

I like the silence.

Of silence, Madeleine L’Engle writes:

Why are we so afraid of silence? Teenagers cannot study without their records; they walk along the street with their transistors. Grownups are as bad if not worse; we turn on the TV or the radio the minute we come into the house or start the car. The pollution of noise in our cities is as destructive as the pollution of air. We show our fear of silence in our conversation: I wonder if the orally minded Elizabethans used “um” and “er” the way we do? And increasingly prevalent is what my husband calls an articulated pause: “You know.” We interject “you know” meaninglessly into every sentence, in order that the flow of our speech should not be interrupted by such a terrifying thing as silence.

If I look to myself I find, as usual, contradiction. Ever since I’ve had a record player I’ve written to music–not all music, mostly Back and Mozart and Scarlatti and people like that–but music: sound. 

Yet when I went on my first retreat I slipped into silence as though into the cool waters of the sea. I felt totally, completely, easily at home in silence. 

With the people I love most I can sit in silence indefinitely. 

We need both for our full development; the joy of the sense of sound; and the equally great joy of its absence.

Glimpses of Grace (70-71)

Share this!
Facebook Twitter Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *