Sounds of Silence

This is dedicated to my online mentor, David Kanigan, who has of late, been the muse behind my weekly column:

“….each silence has a character of its own. No meditation better
clears the mind than to listen to the shape of the silence that surrounds
us. It focuses us on the thin line between what is there and what is not
there. It opens our heart to the unseen, and reminds us that the world
is larger than the events that fill our days.” ~ Kent Nerburn, ‘The Eloquence of Silence’

I bask in silence and need it to nurture what I think of as my soul. In his essay, ‘The Eloquence of Silence’ from the book, “Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life”, Kent Nerburn captures the very essence of silence. Silence dressed in the white flowing robes of clarity provides us with the room to think; the room to contemplate; and the room to gather the scatter of our lives. Not all silence is calm. Sometimes, in the shroud of darkness, it shouts and in that silence there is no peace. But the silence that I find nourishing has no specific voice other than the one I choose to give it.

I know people who thrive on the busyness of life. And I understand. There is satisfaction in getting things done; going places; and being industrious. Sometimes I thrive on these things, but I need the balance of silence to offset the demands of a hectic life. Of late I have been spring cleaning, and if I do say so myself I am appalled at the dust bunnies, cobwebs, and detritus of everyday life that I have ignored during the cold months. But in my diligent hunt to eradicate dust and dirt, I pause and sit in silence to enjoy the harvest of my labours: the clean front window, the no longer grime encrusted kitchen fan, the clean bric-a-brac that litters every surface in all my rooms. (I am just this side of being a bit of a hoarder.)

In silence, I relish the life that busyness has created. I revisit the pleasant lunch I had with my sister who is visiting from Ottawa; I listen once again to the music of a rare concert; I revisit the laughter of times spent with friends. If I did not have silence then the events of my life would have one note. With silence, I have the whole melody to revel in the complexities of life.

I am not the only one who cherishes silence. Here are a few of my favourite quotes about silence from some pretty famous people, so I am in good company:

1. I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own. – Chaim Potok, The Chosen
2. Silence is a source of great strength. – Lao Tzu
3. Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence. – Leonardo da Vinci
4. Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact. – George Eliot
5. Silence is a true friend who never betrays. – Confucius
6. Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom. – Francis Bacon
7. Choose silence of all virtues, for by it you hear other men’s imperfections, and conceal your own. – George Bernard Shaw
8. There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place of silence right in your room, your garden or even your bathtub. – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
9. Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. – Max Ehrmann, Desiderata
10. There are times when silence is the best way to yell at the top of your voice. – O. A. Battista

Silence can shout and it must be listened to. When I do not have enough “silent” time I am decidedly off my game. I need silence to gather my thoughts; to put together the self that has been torn apart; to just be. And it is multi-dimensional, as Nerburn illustrates in this passage, which I think deserves to conclude a column dedicated to silence:

“We need to pay heed to the many silences in our lives. An empty room is alive with a different silence than a room where someone is hiding. The silence of a happy house echoes less darkly than the silence of a house of brooding anger. The silence of a winter morning is sharper than the silence of a summer dawn.”

Enjoy, delight, and revel in the many silences of your life.

Where do you find your comfortable silence?

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Published in: on May 4, 2015 at 4:21 pm  Comments (17)  
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17 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Silence, early in the morning and late at night…before and after the confusion of the day. Any friend of DK is a friend of mine.

  2. I loved this post, especially when you said “I need the balance of silence to offset the demands of a hectic life”. That is so very true! I find my comfortable silence amidst the noises of nature. I sit quietly on my deck in the sunshine with my eyes closed or lay in bed early in the morning or late at night listening to the birds, frogs, and crickets sing. It makes me smile every time :).

  3. I find my silence in the atmosphere of nature, whether it be beside water, or outside among the flowers and trees, or watching the birds coming and going to the feeders…. We do need that time out of the busyness of life… Diane

  4. Early morning, with a cup of coffee sitting on the deck of my cottage.

  5. I like a quiet morning can’t stand people getting up and chatting away first thing of a morning

  6. Nighttime silence is one of my favorites, though early mornings (on the rare occasions I am up that early, usually thanks to jet lag) are quite soothing as well. I love the quote by Da Vinci and based on experience, have found it to be true. I’ve seen this trick done by my 5th grade teacher who never had to raise her voice and managed to keep 30 kids in line, often by saying nothing.

  7. I’m all about silence. My husband can’t stand a silent room. He immediately turns on the TV for background noise. Guess how happy that makes me!

    I swear I commented on this post before. Am I crazy?

    • my husband is the same way and since I like to read in silence I do not suffer noise gladly
      you may have commented on a post like this before–I am sure I have written about this before

  8. Even in London I’m able to find patches of silence. In the early morning or late at night. And of course, hidden corners of the park. But they are rare.

  9. A wonderful post about silence. I live so remote that silence is my daily companion. Thanks for sharing.

  10. I sure love to keep busy. Seems like lately it’s been more out of necessity than by choice though.
    I appreciate my times alone though too.
    Right now – most of my quiet time is when I’m home alone – I blast the music – dance & clean & spend time with my furry son – Fenway. 🙂

    On nice days – I enjoy my solo times outdoors just about anywhere in nature – even if it’s just in my own backyard.


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