Our cabins near the woods in the morning mist

When was the last time you sat in pure silence for any length of time?

I didn’t realize how long it had been for me until I attended a Highlights Foundation Workshop this week in Honesdale, PA.  We had no cell phone service and the Internet was down for the first day.

I had my own little cabin set against the woods.  I would have expected to hear ambient noise coming from the Barn or chatter from people staying in the adjacent cabins.  But no. Nothing but the sound of steady rain on the roof.

A thick silence.  A silence that takes up residence and fills all the space within and around you. A silence with weight and texture.  This silence made me remember that there is a universe of difference between “quiet” and “silent.”

Just think of how much noise we assimilate – barely even hear anymore.  Dogs barking, phones ringing, cars driving by, neighbors mowing their lawns, washing machines churning, dishwashers swooshing.  The list goes on and on, and these don’t even include noise from the people that inhabit our lives.

In Honesdale, ALL of this noise was absent.  It was the first time in weeks I could “hear” myself think, but ironically I had no desire to. I had no desire to DO anything except feel the silence.  I wanted to live in it and merge with it.  Ultimately I did.  I slept so deeply that each morning when I woke up, it took me a few moments not just to remember where I was, but also who I was.  I wouldn’t want to live that way all the time, but it sure did make me realize how special and importance silence is to the spirit and the creative process.

Here is a poem I wrote the first night.  It came to me fully-formed.  I shared it on Facebook, but since then I’ve made a few revisions, and now I like it even more.

In Silence

My room
My rain
My desk
My door
My bed
My book
My fan
My floor.
I lay here
Alone
Alone
Alone
No call of a voice,
No ring of a phone
The weight of my flesh
Attached to my bone.
The beat of my heart
A circle to start —
My.
Self.

Categories: Creativity, Poetry, Spirituality, Travel, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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31 Comments

  1. sounds wonderful. and the poem is beautiful

  2. Enjoy your silence! Nice revision. Wish I had some silence 🙂

    • Julie Hedlund

      I’m sure I won’t get it again for another 10 years, so I wanted to make sure I remembered what it felt like – LOL

  3. I love the flesh attached to bone and the circle of my self. It was such a pleasure to be with new friends who wanted to talk and share and also wanted time to appreciate the silence.

  4. This is beautiful, Julie. You make a good point about people not even being aware of the vast amount of noise that surrounds them all of the time. I try to find the space to just sit quietly and listen every day. It’s a good mental reset button.

    • Julie Hedlund

      Yes, it reminded me of how important it is to just be still sometimes – even if perfect silence is a fallacy.

  5. ahhh….feeling it, hearing it, for just a moment!

  6. Hi Julie. Lovely poem and love your new website. The saying, ‘Silence is Golden’ can be used for many circumstances, including this one. From the silence you were enveloped in during your time in this cabin, a golden poem has emerged alongside experiencing a greater awareness of ‘self’. I agree this is so important and energising for the spirit and creativity. The cabins and the woodlands backdrop looks so calming. I think we should all try to just ‘bask’ in the silence from time to time.

    • Julie Hedlund

      @Cathy – one moment is better than none!

      @Helen – thanks for your feedback about the new website, and the poem. I wish we could all bring more silence into our everyday lives. It’s quite nourishing.

      @Carter – Thanks!

  7. Few words that say so much – In Silence!
    The photo is gorgeous.
    Thank you for sharing.

  8. For a moment, I didn’t hear the builder’s flags flapping across the street as I read your silence. Can’t wait to hear more about your experience.

  9. I love the poem. I thought I was in silence when I meditated, but not really – it’s just the only 10 minutes of the day when the TV is off. I developed a true appreciation for silence when I started reading on tape for the blind and handicapped. Sometimes, it sounds “quiet” but when I listen back, NOPE! I need to move to a cabin…..

    • Julie Hedlund

      Or at least move into a temporary cabin for a while – it does the body (and the mind and heart) a lot of good!

  10. How blessed you were to experience the silence, Julie…and it was a complete rest for soul and body, as your poem suggests. Well done!

  11. Beautiful poem! Glad you enjoyed the silence – it’s restful and refreshing, isn’t it?

    • Julie Hedlund

      @Jarm & @Susanna – thank you! And yes, the silence is both restful and refreshing.

  12. Julie – Your poem made me remember how as a mom of young children I craved silence! Now that my children are grown and gone I crave the noise they made – as Trace Adkins sang, “You’re gonna miss this. You’re gonna want this back. You’re gonna wish that time hadn’t gone by so fast.” I thank you for showing me how beautiful silence can be. I had to travel all the way back to Arizona to appreciate the silence you were experiencing next door to me! So glad to have met you and made a new writer friend.

    • Julie Hedlund

      Carol,

      Meeting you was one of the highlights of the Highlights workshop! You are too right about how we miss the chaos and the noise sometimes too. It was wonderful to get a break from it though, and to share the peacefulness with such an amazing group of writers.

  13. Julie, I loved this. I am a person who craves silence and solitude, especially when I’m writing. Sometimes I think I could actually live alone on a deserted island. I wonder…..

    • Julie Hedlund

      It’s funny because although I love silence, I also love noise and being with people too. The key is finding a balance I guess.

  14. That’s simply beautiful. It’s amazing what silence can do for our creativity. I’ve been wanting to attend the Highlights Foundation workshop. For now, I’ll just lock myself in a closet somewhere.

  15. Peaceful picture, beautiful poem. John Cage wrote a musical score called 4 minutes and 33 seconds (of silence). People like to joke about it because it’s a score composed of rests. However, he wrote if after visiting a sound proof chamber. In the chamber, he expected to hear silence, but couldn’t find it. Instead he heard the beating of his heart. His breath moving in and out. And he realized that silence is never perfect. So during ‘4 minutes and 33 seconds’ the audience coughing, the pages turning, and the scraping of chairs against the floor become the music. Sound is always in our life, even in moments of silence. I think your poem captures that beautifully.

    • Julie Hedlund

      Oh, I’d love to hear that musical score! I’ll have to look it up. You simply cannot escape sound, but you can try stillness. Thanks for sharing this insight.

  16. Your poem is beautiful, Julie. I can’t imagine how great it was to be at a workshop at the Highlights Foundation. The setting is so picturesque. I’m glad you got to experience it, and I am anxious to hear more.

  17. LOVE the poem and love your visit with silence. I’ve been practicing mindful meditation, and it’s been a struggle to sit still. In modern society we’re trained to think that sitting still (in silence even) is being lazy or wasting time. Here’s to silence! I do love it (in small doses)! Thanks for sharing!

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