I happened to read Olfacta’s post right after I’d been out hiking. We had a soft, gray morning here, unusually warm for December. I had the trails to myself, and the solitude was pure pleasure. Moisture dripped from the trees and the birds chattered, but otherwise there was no sound except my footfall on the sloppy path. I stopped for a while and looked up through the trees. My mind became quiet. The words that tumble around my brain all the time turned to smoke and then disappeared altogether.
Something miraculous happens when I silence my talking self. Everything around me becomes alive. The stones, the fallen leaves, even the air shimmers with life.
That moment in the park came back to me as I was thinking about Olfacta’s post. One of the problems with all this “connectedness” is that it has absolutely no place for silence—no place for the silence of solitude, and no place for companionable silence among friends. To fall silent in the world of Facebook and Twitter is tantamount to dying. You cease to exist.
And awe suddenly
passing beyond itself. Becomes
a form of comfort.
Becomes the steady
air you glide on, arms
stretched like the wings of flying foxes.
To hear the multiple silence
of trees, the rainy
forest depths of their listening.
From "To Live in the Mercy of God" by Denise Levertov. The rest is here.
St. Mary of Egypt, Tintoretto, 1582-87