Monday, 18 February 2013

It's all around!

I find silence in the most unusual places!! I reflected on that over the weekend because it struck me on my journey home on Friday night that the two hour train ride is an oasis of silence for me! OK it is punctuated by emails - if I choose to open them - and the chatter all around me but generally speaking I can block that all out and find real solitude and refreshment.

I've known I cherish the weekly commute for a while now. I use it to write. I use it to just stare out of the window and drink in the enormity of the created order and its subtle changes. I use it to ground myself in the comfort of the changing seasons. The first signs of spring are now beginning to show. Catkins hang from slender twigs, their fluffy bright yellow beauty standing out against the drabness of their surroundings. They catch the eye and warm the heart.

I also found silence in my garden on Saturday - though the noise of my neighbourhood was a constant. I was unaware of the hustle and bustle of transport and families going about their business. Instead I was absorbed by the wonder of nature unfolding all around me. Determined spear-like shoots pushing through the sodden, caked ground. Buds on branches fattening and some even beginning to burst. The optimism of spring shrouded me.

Silence is a source of refreshment for me in so many ways...

Friday, 15 February 2013

It can be scary

Silence that is!  I sort of touched on that yesterday as well, but before I go any further I meant to put the link to the whole series into yesterday's post so here it is:

I awoke in the middle of the night last night - its not unusual for me so I wasn't anxious or worried but I didn't go back to sleep immediately.  My mind had been pondering on the the reflection and the link that is sometimes made between silence and death.  The silence can be quite deafening in the middle of the night.  Somehow it gets compounded by the darkness and has the potential to become menacing.  Illnesses always seem worse during the dark hours and I am sure I read somewhere that death 'snatches' people away in the wee small hours more than it does in the bright light of day.  Our bodies rhythms are at their low ebb and we feel/are vulnerable.

When I was a child the house we lived in had a strip of wood in front of it and half the road had a HUGE, dense holly hedge along the path.  It did seem huge to a child but in reality it was probably only 8ft tall.  I got used to walking down the road on my own and then when I went to high school the shortest route home was through another piece of woodland (I suspect they were once all one). I loved the sense of being at one with that piece of wood as I walked through it on dull evenings and dark nights.  I was a strange child!  But it never felt silent - there was my footfall for a start, the rustle of leaves on the ground and the sighing of the twigs and branches above me.

maybe its because I'm an eternal optimist... but silence always seems pregnant to me.  Full of possibilities.  Redolent with potential abundance... as the reflection highlighted the silent death of winter hides the plentiful promise of spring.

Silence doesn't have to be scary...

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Silence - and listening to it!

No, I haven't gone mad, though I do know there is a whole record that is devoted to silence, the concept of "hearing" silence is quite a bizarre one! 

My London church has a tradition (well its been doing this for about 7 years now) of writing its own Lent booklet and this year our theme is "Listening to..."   Yesterday was Ash Wednesday (or the day after Pancake Day as I suspect many may now refer to it as) so we started our Lenten journey with the theme for these next few days being Listening to Silence.

Its odd how little things happen during the day that suddenly all add up by the time you're in bed and about to go to sleep!  I started the day VERY early (I'm looking for accolades here!  Not!) I went to Mass at St Mary's Willesden at 6.30am with my friend Sarah.  The little sermon (aka homily) was great, the priest talked about the silence of the Judean desert and his own experience of that on a pilgrimage.  He also talked about how difficult it was to find silence in our lives but how that was less tricky than carve out some solitude.

Turn the clock forward just over 12 hours and I was back in church - at St Andrew's Holborn, where I am to be found most Wednesday evenings - listening to more pearls of wisdom from our Guild Vicar, Lyle. He was, of course, speaking directly to the theme of silence and how hard it is to still our minds and eradicate any stray thoughts so that the sounds of silence can creep into our consciousness (I'm now interpreting his words in my own way!).  He went on to expand that to illustrate how important it can be to listen to our inner self, one of the sounds that is often drowned out by our busy world and crowded minds.

Then in the pub afterwards, a friend reminded me that I wasn't always able to clear my mind and just 'be'...  There was a time in my life when the demands of young family and all the other paraphernalia I had in my life at the time stopped me clearing my thoughts; actively prevented me from listening to silence.  It was also a time when, had I stopped to actually clear my mind and allow the silence to 'get to me' that I might have crumpled and not been able to carry on.  The thought of confronting some of the things I was burying deep down was too scary.

Silence is a gift and a balm but only when we are strong enough to cope with all that we will hear...