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.
I lay here
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 —