Saturday Morning (Soul Train)

There is in the soul a desire
for not thinking.
For being still.

~ Raymond Carver, from “Radio Waves,” in All of Us: The Collected Poems

– – –

the body remains at home
tending to the housekeeping. It sweeps
and sweeps while the soul sits on a
riverbank somewhere, looking at clouds
The soul, it seems, has kept the best
memories: a silver dress that
knew how to dance, a kiss from mama,
and the one good year. Or maybe two…

~ Eleanor Lerman, from “A Myth Sitting by a River”


Notes:

 

Why My Family Takes a Thanksgiving Vow of Silence

nina-li-coomes

For many years, my family took a vow of silence over Thanksgiving, retreating to a Catholic seminary perched on a small lake in Libertyville, Illinois. The rules of the Thanksgiving Silent Retreat were simple: no talking, no reading, no watching TV or listening to music. We were allowed to draw, or write, or play the grand piano in the pink-carpeted seminary lounge, but were not to bring books or use our laptops or phones. […]

Consider the Thanksgiving table, groaning under the weight of abundance: jeweled cranberries winking in orange-spiced syrups; the skin of the turkey rubbed and brined and roasted to crispy perfection; mounds of potatoes fluffed into chive-flecked clouds; green beans and stuffing and marshmallow-topped yams. Circling these dishes, the yawning promise of empty plates, and yet—above the whole table floats a cottony haze of silence. No one speaks. No one asks you to pass the salt, to refill the wine. What would that be like? How do you think you might feel and exist in that silent, still place?

Click here for the punch line and the entire story: Why My Family Takes a Thanksgiving Vow of Silence by Nina Li Coomes.

It’s been a long day

luci d'inverno

The blue river is grey at morning
and evening. There is twilight
at dawn and dusk. I lie in the dark
wondering if this quiet in me now
is a beginning or an end.

~ Jack Gilbert, “Waking at Night” (The Greensboro Review, Fall 2008)


Notes:

 

It’s been a long day

Or was Mill concerned that, in a perfect world, with nothing more to strive for, we might simply grow bored? As the 19th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once upliftingly put it, “life swings back and forth like a pendulum between pain and boredom.” When we are not consumed by the desire to achieve something (food, shelter, companionship, wealth, career, status, social reform, etc.), we are tortured by boredom…

The answer, he discovered through reading Wordsworth, is to take refuge in a capacity to be moved by beauty — a capacity to take joy in the quiet contemplation of delicate thoughts, sights, sounds, and feelings, not just titanic struggles…

I hope, and suspect, that Mill is right about this: that we all have the ability to find some durable joy in quietude, normalcy and contemplation. In our personal lives, and in our political lives too, it would be nice if we could escape Schopenhauer’s pendulum:

to simply enjoy where we are, at times; to find some peace in the cessation of motion…

~ Adam Etinson, from Is a Life Without Struggle Worth Living? (NY Times, October 2, 2017)


Notes: Photo: via bea’titudeRelated Posts: It’s been a long day

 

T.G.I.F.: It’s been a long week

I
slowly
withdraw
from
my
body.

~ Anna Kamienska, from A Nest of Quiet: A Notebook


Notes: Photo Manipulation by Laurent Rosset (Denmark) (via this isn’t happiness)

Saturday Morning

110.
Persons who live in noise are like dust swept along by the wind.
On the other hand, those who love silence and solitude walk step by step…
they know how to break the vicious circles of noise,
like animal tamers who manage to calm roaring lions.

~ Cardinal Robert Sarah, from “The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise” (April, 2017).


Notes:

  • Photo: Arno Rafael Minkkinen (via My Modern Met). “Using his own naked body, Finnish-born artist Arno Rafael Minkkinen interacts with the outdoors, providing us with curiously interesting photos that are both humorous and inspiring. These unmanipulated photos show us that you don’t always need Photoshop to create surprising, surreal-like images. All you need is a little imagination.”
  • Related Posts: Cardinal Robert Sarah

I have a room all to myself; it is nature.

Photo: A woman swims in Walden Pond in Concord, Mass., on what would have been the 200th birthday of Henry David Thoreau, author of the book ‘Walden.’ He was born on July 12, 1817. (Brian Snyder, Reuters, wsj.com July 12, 2017)


Post Title: Henry David Thoreau

 

It’s been a long day

Isolation offered its own form of companionship: the reliable silence of her rooms, the steadfast tranquility of the evenings. The promise that she would find things where she put them, that there would be no interruption, no surprise. It greeted her at the end of each day and lay still with her at night.

Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland


Notes:

 

a fugitive breeze, a rustle of leaves, choral insects

Quiet, please.

In contrast to “Baby Driver,” with its high-decibel cacophony, this week also brings Patrick Shen’s “In Pursuit of Silence.” It isn’t really silence that’s being pursued in this beguiling, meditative and elegantly photographed documentary. As one murmuring head after another observes, absolute silence can’t be achieved in these earthly precincts, and doesn’t warrant chasing after in any case. What’s de-stressing for the body and nourishing for the soul is quiet that contains benign sounds—a fugitive breeze, a rustle of leaves, choral insects, a bird sending signals from the far reaches of a serene acoustic surround.  The film begins with a tribute to “4’33,” the seminal composition by John Cage in which music is not played—by a pianist, or a full orchestra—for the four minutes and 33 seconds of the title. In Mr. Shen’s evocative sequence, words are not spoken but, if you listen carefully, sounds of nature and even human laughter can be heard under—or over, or within? —a succession of graceful images.

~ Joe Morgenstern, from ‘In Pursuit of Silence’ Review: Dulcet Symphony. A meditative documentary explores quiet and the auditory world around us. (wsj.com, June 29, 2017)


Note: Rotten Tomatoes Movie Review

I imagine what it must be like to…stay still in the night

There are no birds or anything, or none that I can see. I imagine what it must be like to stay hidden, disappear in the dusky nothing and stay still in the night. It’s not sadness, though it may sound like it. I’m thinking about people and trees and how I wish I could be silent more, be more tree than anything else, less clumsy and loud, less crow, more cool white pine, and how it’s hard not to always want something else, not just to let the savage grass grow.

~ Ada Limón, “Mowing,” from Bright Dead Things: Poems


Photo: (via Hidden Sanctuary)

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