A thirty-day exercise in pausing, reflecting, appreciating, and giving thanks for simple things.
When I think of silence, I don’t think of the absence of sound. Instead I think of a mindfulness that allows for clarity of focus. Let me give you an example. If you live in a place where it snows in the winter, then you’ve probably at some point in your life found yourself walking outside in a snow storm. Imagine a gentle falling snow, with no wind, no noise, just the snow falling. If you’ve been focused on the quiet, you’ve actually heard the snow hitting the ground as it falls. It is an awesome feeling, to experience so much silence that you can actually hear a snowflake touch down. Another example is not quite as common but it happens and I was fortunate enough to hear it once in my lifetime. It was a hot and muggy day; the kind of day when the air is thick with humidity and it’s tough to breathe. The sun was hot and there was no breeze, not even a gentle whiff of air. I was walking down a gravel road alongside a field of corn and I actually heard corn grow. I stopped in my tracks and stood long enough to confirm that I really had just listened to corn grow. Now that was a gift!
Another form of silence—and my favorite—happens in the wee hours of the morning, before the world is awake. Everyone is sleeping, nothing is moving. Life is at peace, life is simple. It is easy to find clarity in those moments. For me, it is the best time to focus on my writing and I consider such mornings a treasured gift of time to myself.
Recently I have been focusing on a completely different form of silence. For the last few days my daughters have been taking part in a discussion, one full of emotion and drama, but without spoken words. It started out as a simple question in a group message on Facebook. Because of all of their busy work schedules, they are not all available to talk on the phone at the same time. They all live in different cities, and one is even in another country. They prefer texting and messaging on Facebook, so that’s how the silent conversation started. And over the course of several days, it became a full-fledged argument complete with hurtful words tossed wildly about. Tears have been shed and hearts are hurting. I had no idea there could be so much power (albeit negative energy) in silence. So where is the gift in this argument? It is hiding in the fact that I have been silent, no written words, no spoken words, for much of this argument. I haven’t been able to stay silent before. As the mom I usually inserted myself when things got out of hand or when one daughter was being overpowered by another. But they are all adults now, so that has affected my willingness to step in and establish law and order. And this time the enormity of the issue has given me the willpower to take a step back and let them work this out on their own. I didn’t know I had that in me. I just gave myself a valuable gift.