I have become one who dwells in silence, a land yearned for, yet previously little known, in a busy work day world of job, children and family. I live in a world full of noise — news, music, entertainment, traffic, NPR podcasts, audio books, phone, email and text conversations — everyone talking, it seems, all at once, and no one listening. Have I, have we, forgotten how to listen?
Now that I’m retired, I have the luxury to set aside a day for practicing silence, a day to allow silence to become a friend. It is fairly easy to gain outer silence. One only needs to pull the plug, turn the dial to “off,” retreat to a sanctuary in one’s home, or outdoors, if one can be found!
In the ensuing quiet, it takes a while to relax, to unclench into the silence. It may feel scary or uncomfortable at first, but then an inner observer awakes, and one can begin to listen, to develop a practice of listening.
Winter is a good time for silence. In the cold, most people are indoors. The snow blankets the ground and muffles sound. The moon, a friend of the silent night, casts long thin shadows across the blue tinged snow. I wait, listen, and wonder. I watch. Such beauty is born in silence: sunrise, sunset, clouds drifting in cerulean sky, snow floating lazily earthward, flowers blooming their love affair with pollinators, smiles that move from lips to eyes.
Inner silence is harder to achieve. I’m addicted to words and want to fill my silent time reading, or copying down poems, reflections, prayers, instead of settling down into the heart and embracing no thought, no words. I “thought” I would become prolific with inspired musings, or poems, but to my surprise I find myself only getting more and more quiet. I can’t report that I have learned anything, only that I am here, and I am listening.