It is, at once, both full and empty. It is rare and highly unappreciated. It deserves high praise for its beauty and for the opportunities of deepest solace and searching it allows. There is a time for it according to Ecclesiastes. It is sung about, written about, and longed for, yet it is shunned and feared by most. It was once cherished and noticed more often, but now mostly avoided and disallowed. It has the power to drive a person absolutely crazy, though some feel lost and overwhelmed without it.
Have you answered my riddle?
The absence of noise.
Tranquility. Quietude. Hush. Stillness.
Those words speak loudly to the introvert in me. Give me any of those synonyms or that beautiful word itself and I am at peace.
I was that kindergartner that longed for those few minutes of quiet in the middle of the day on a half inch mat of foam when everyone had to finally be still and close their chattery little mouths.
I am still the one who has been known to escape a group, even of my closest friends, to go breathe and recharge in the other room. Three hours in the car alone? Happy me! No music, no noise. Just blessed silence.
And that is where I relate with few. In my circle, as in most I would guess, folks need noise. Music is always on, and if it’s not, hands are tapping out a beat, toes are keeping to a rhythm, someone is humming. Voices in conversation add a layer upon the notes and rhythms and most of them compete for space using volume as their means of winning the unspoken competition.
Even on a normal day, this girl escapes just to breathe.
“I need to be alone. I need to ponder my shame and my despair in seclusion; I need the sunshine and the paving stones of the streets without companions, without conversation, face to face with myself, with only the music of my heart for company.” — Henry Miller
I am comfortable with stillness. It soothes deep parts of my mind and spirit — the ones that make loud inner demands of myself to meet my own quotas of order and accomplishments — the whispers that keep me relentlessly in motion. In the quiet I find space and time to settle and listen — not only to the often unheard things around me, but also to my own necessary and overrun desires. Outside of the clamor is where my spirt settles in to a tandem rhythm with my God. It’s harder to find Him amongst the crashing and crescendos and cacophony of noise.
“I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it; it has a quality and a dimension all its own.” — Chaim Potok
This place to which my family relocated is replete with a kind of silence such as I’ve rarely found. Away from society lies a quietude so rare…so exquisite…
We have invited guests around our campfire to listen to it, to breathe it in. It’s so quiet it’s almost deafeningly loud. Invariably, someone gets uncomfortable much too quickly to appreciate its subtleties and shouts or breaks out in laughter.
What is there, in the absence of noise, that is frightening? What can we not face? I’m concerned for a society that closes off parts of themselves and needs to numb out with noise or substance or the screen of a device — anything that covers up what is real. It’s true, sometimes when we are still, something that we didn’t want to face can approach. But the beauty of being still is that we can hear it coming and deal with it. If we are oblivious to the approach, we stand to be hit with a surprise attack. Much messier, in my opinion.
Quiet amplifies and empowers the senses. It tunes us in to what is real. We face what needs to be faced. We are given a chance to see what is missing or crippled or needed and to fix it.
“We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us that they may see, it may be, their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life because of our quiet.” — W.B.Yeats
Is it possible that our worlds are so full of noise, so purposefully lost in the shuffle that we are unaware? We numb our senses to not feel.
We don’t deal with the heart of anything when the world around us is too noisy to find its almost imperceptible beat.
I offer you a challenge in the space of a quiet place. Find it. Carve out the moments and just BE. Breathe there. Let your mind be still. Listen to everything and to nothing.
Quiet it all down…
“Be still and know that I am God.” — God