“And in the naked light I saw then thousand people, maybe more. People talking without speaking. People hearing without listening. People writing songs that voices never share. And no one dare disturb the sound of silence.” – Simon & Garfunkle
So….do you? I mean, really. Can you? (Alan waits as the reader pauses to understand what he is expecting as the answer.) Can you hear the sound of silence? If you go on to read the rest of the thought provoking lyric from Simon & Garfunkle, you get a better picture. I always wondered where they wrote the song and if a large transit bus pulled up close right after laying down the last line. (LOL)
Where were you when you were slammed with true silence? Was it a hike in the woods? Was it perching out on the patio after a heavy overnight snowfall? For you, it might simply be a hot bath with low lights. Or maybe while sitting in a cold basement after a domestic dispute upstairs that lasted way too long. (Yep, been there, done that.) For me, two places come to mind beyond all else. A lonely, out-of-tourist-season beach and December 25th.
I have three precious daughters, Tabitha, Megan and D’Anna, all grown now. When they were restless kids late Christmas Eve night, we did the entire Santa prep complete with assembly instructions spread out from its 16 different folds with French, Japanese, Spanish and English to boot. After all was arranged under the Christmas tree, along with Kringle’s eggnog and cookies nicely plated on the hearth, it was maybe 2:30 am. From childhood I always stayed up as long as I could waiting for the guy in the red suit to enter stage right. I never caught him, but instead I was educated in the lessons of quietness. Later as a teen I often would come home from a Christmas party and bundle up for a hushed few moments on the front steps. To this day, after a Christmas Eve midnight candlelight service, I take a few outdoor minutes to absorb the quietness of the hour. It seems to me the wee hours of Christmas morning are the times of silence, possibly the most hushed morning of the year. If you have snowfall around you for the holiday overnight, it’s usually still and silent all the more. You should try it. (WARNING: It will fail you when it’s Christmas in July.)
Whether you’re soaking in the stillness after being pooped-out from Christmas wrappings, or having the salty water licking your feet on a deserted beach, the silence speaks. If it doesn’t, maybe you forgot the television is on in the background or you are sitting in quietness, but you’re surfing the web on your cell phone. How courageous are you to venture out into the velvet audio of nothingness? I find it serves me well shutting my brain down by shutting down all the noise, all the sounds and the clangings of the stuff of life. In-other-words, setting oneself apart from the audio chaos of our technological world we build around us can only inspire and bloom the mind.
During my years as a radio on-air guy and voice actor, my hair always had what I refer to as, “headphone hair”. Hours and hours of audio pumping into the ears from the cans is common in that industry. Unfortunately, many of us radio vets suffer from some sort of hearing loss. After years with the headphones you wake up one day with the realization that over time you’ve inadvertently turned up the audio levels because of the scrutiny applied in search of detecting any audio flaws in production or broadcasts. Certainly us on-air folk get seduced by the frequency levels. Often after a long day behind the mic I headed home with the radio and CD player off with only the sound of the engine. Such a relief.
Dare you read on? Here, I ask only because I am a victim myself. Here goes. Are you seduced by the speakers and screen? Have you tripped over the curb because you were caught-up texting your journey away? Did you miss a loved one’s sincere question because you were deeply into a scene on a network TV show? Ouch! It hurts when we get honest with ourselves. Please, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting joining a monastery overlooking Mt Everest, although for some, that’s their mission to do so.
Let me say, from actual experience in the art of stillness, there is a dam holding up gold nuggets of thought just waiting to flow down to you. Downloaded life-changing details often don’t come while encased, wrapped and chained in the noise of the times. Most of all, the One who wants to hear YOUR voice has Himself a still small whisper. Explore it and you may find the sound of silence can be deafening.
Quiet times offer nozzles surging with fuel for the race.
“…Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire came a gentle whisper…” – I Kings 19: 11b-12