The silence is profound this morning. It is not portentous; there seems to be nothing in the waiting. It is a gentle silence, liquid and pastel, a shimmer on still waters. It is good to listen to the silence that surrounds each day. In the same way that music is made alive by the silence that surrounds the notes, a day comes alive by the silence that surrounds our actions. And the dawn is the time when silence reveals herself most clearly.
I once met a man who was raised on the Canadian prairies. We got to talking about the open space, and how it had shaped his spirit. “When the wind stops,” he said, “it is so loud that everyone pauses to listen.” The thought intrigued me. How could the end of a sound be loud? But when I traveled to those prairies, I began to understand. For the people in the great prairies, the sound they hear, the music that underlies their lives, is the constant and ever-present howl of the wind. To them it is no sound at all. When it is removed, the silence takes a different shape, and all are aware of it; all pause to hear.
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. The silence of a mountain pass is larger than the silence of a forest glen. These are not fantasies, they are subtle discriminations of the senses. Though all are the absence of sound, 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.
Into this morning’s silence comes the first call of a bird. I listen carefully. It cuts through the silence like a rainbow through the dawn.
~ Kent Nerburn, ‘The Eloquence of Silence’ from “Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life”