delithopia

Notes from the Waxhaws

A geography of silence

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“We enter the land of silence by the silence of surrender, and there is no map of the silence that is surrender.”

— Martin Laird,  Into the Silent Land 

Over the past several months, I’ve been making brief, intentional, voluntary forays into the silent land. A strange world that has no maps…but that exists all around us…waiting to be explored. I’ve only just begun to make short excursions into this land of silence…dilly-dallying with one foot in and the other out…not completely committed, at least just not yet, to an extended journey.

Silence is more than a lack of sound. It has its own tangible substance. Sara Maitland, in A Book of Silence, writes, “The more and the longer you are silent, the more you hear the tiny noises within the silence, so that silence itself is always slipping away like a timid wild animal. You have to be very still to lure it.”

While the experience of pure silence is elusive, those tiny noises one begins to hear as one nears the frontier can be wonderful. Lately, my favorite time of day is when I wake up at 4 am…I slip out of bed and go grab a cup of coffee…then return to bed in the darkness…and just listen to the morning. It suddenly occurred to me one morning…that the sounds I was hearing…the crickets…the dogs softly snoring at my side…an occasional hoot from an owl…the subtle rush of the breeze through the pines…even the distant sounds of traffic on the highway a mile away…all interwoven with the still silence…the voice of God Himself? Is He that close?

Kathleen Norris, in The Cloister Walk, asks, “What would I find in my own heart if the noise of the world were silenced?”  That’s something I want…and need… to find out. Once the barrage of other voices that fill our every waking moment is stilled…what will we hear? Are we searching for something that is…after all…right under our very noses?

Written by Jim

April 6, 2012 at 7:17 pm

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