“The further one travels the spiritual path toward Home...the more precious is one's relationship with Silence. Though the spiritual disciplines may change over the course of one's journey, the one discipline which seems constant, though it ever deepens, is the friendship with Silence.”
I went to a neighborhood garden party one evening this week. It was at the home of a very gracious woman. Each beautifully appointed room had not one thing out of place. This woman is a master gardener, who bought the house a few years ago, had all the troublesome trees cut down immediately, and now has a garden as thickly planted and lovely as any public botanical park. The neighbors gathered inside and when the volume became too intense, moved outside to drink wine and socialize. Before long, outside was loud, too. I found myself walking a paving-stone path that wound through beautiful flowers to the very back of the garden where stood a small gazebo with plush seating and a baby swing for the woman's grandchild. It was almost quiet there.
I'm not sure why humans, especially American humans, have adopted a code of loudness. When people are talking with one another, we raise our voices in order to be heard. Pretty soon, everyone is yelling, and no one can be heard. It truly is a mystery to me. You don't see that in other countries. A close-to-home example of this adoration of sound is the little brewery/restaurant area just down the hill from me. When a band tunes up for the evening's entertainment, the amps are turned as high as they can go. The music is so loud it hurts. You feel it pounding in your chest! It's loud at my house six blocks away! And over the top of that music are screaming voices of people trying to converse with one another. It's a staggering cacophony of noise. What IS that all about?
Down in Fair Hope, Alabama, there is a community called Friends of Silence. The quote above is from one of their leaders. They are people committed to a spiritual path involving silence as a way of life. I don't think I could adopt a practice of total silence, but I find myself valuing more and more the time I spend with only the natural sounds. I think spending significant time each day in silence heightens awareness, calms the nervous system, and keeps one grounded and centered.
When I left the garden party, only the extroverts were still there—talking, talking, talking. I enjoyed walking down the quiet street and going into my silent, messy house. It was a holy moment.
In the Spirit,