Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ode To Silence

Inspired by Ten Ways To Destroy Your Child's Imagination, Method Nine

When I was young there were always younger siblings needing naps. I remember the quiet that would settle over the whole house when the baby went to sleep and for two hours out of every afternoon we would have a sacred Quiet Time. Mom would sleep too, no one would converse (if we did we would involuntarily whisper), we were either reading or pursuing some quiet activity.

It’s nap time now as I write this. Someone upstairs is practicing music, Mom (she no longer has a baby to put to sleep) has just returned from an errand, I can hear footsteps, cupboards creaking. But all these sounds are distant, part of someone else’s life. Here, in our little home, Lucy has drifted to sleep next to a pile of picture books. Esther is stirring, but she has been told that it’s not time to get up yet. I can hear Joshua’s legos tinkling in the box as he searches for the right piece and the keys of my keyboard make muted clicking noises. The calm, the quiet, is almost tangible, like a quilt that we are snuggled under as we rest from the labors of the morning and get ready for the labors of the evening.

Usually our church is bustling with people. A hundred “how-do-you-do’s” are exchanged as we all find our seats but then the cheerful cacophony is united in song and confession. Even during the sermon, as the pastor’s voice brings the word of God, there is a soft, quiet rustle as children color, parents hush, and Bible pages turn. But if you happen to go into the sanctuary when all the worshippers have gone off to their various daily lives, you will encounter another tangible silence. In that silence you can hear without hearing the echo of hundreds of hymns sung by thousands of voices throughout the ages. If you listen to that silence, pausing for a moment from whatever errand you might have been on, you will know that this passing life is not all there is.

New York City is a place of hustle and bustle if any place is. We saw Times Square, alight with one glitzy advertisement after another. We rode the subway with hundreds of people hurrying hither and thither. We were on the Empire State Building as the sun set and millions of lights began to blink on—lights in houses, street lights, traffic lights, and head lights on thousands and thousands of cars. In the midst of Manhattan, many people find sanctuary under the trees, in the meadows, and along the paths of Central Park. But my favorite place that we visited in the City was the Trinity Church. The old church is right in the financial district, mere blocks from the Stock Exchange. There were no signs instructing curious tourists like ourselves to be quiet, but when we walked in, the place itself made us involuntarily respectful, reverent. We didn’t rush from one informative plaque to an other, we didn’t point out curiosities to each other. No, we sat, gazed a little, and listened. A place like that takes you beyond yourself. The eternal touches the present and we know that a home is prepared for us Somewhere Else.

1 comment:

  1. Amen!
    I love our quiet time. When silence finally descends I want to just bask in it.
    Likewise, when I want to be creative, at 6 am is the best time... no one is stirring, no music is playing, few cars are out, and silence reigns.