Silence fills my kitchen. Not a mouse’s squeak nor a car’s crackle disturbs its enveloping presence.
At my age, it’s wonderfully welcomed but glaringly empty for a twenty-year-old on a Friday night. Winter is silence’s sanctuary and silence is time’s sanctuary – the windows and doors are tightly closed and the hum of the refrigerator reminds me that it’s still working. Is this the time for self-indulgence that’s already occurred numerous times before or is it a respite from life’s nonstop noises?
Silence. I didn’t say “quiet” because in silence minds can race from forty to sixty years ago to the present time in seconds flat without missing a breath. Time seems to encapsulate itself in silence. Time is all contained and held tenderly while that refrigerator hums away.
If you have children then your silence occurs at the end of the evening when you hope that their dreams come true as you contemplate your own; gotten or forgotten. If you’re 80 years-old it may come after your 2:00 a.m. bathroom visit and you decide that another twenty minutes awake won’t make a difference.
We live in a loud and I mean very loud world. We turn on the TV and can’t hear the news analysts talk because they’re talking over each other. I place the TV remote on hold only to discover that “hold” in cable-land means a few minutes of hold before a nasally sounding girl yells about the shows I have no interest in watching. Silence.
Silence without the quiet recalls a past that either brings a smile or frown and a future that has no facial expression yet. If a smile does appear about the future then the future is yours, regardless of its unfolding.
Silence. The time that holds no time but incorporates all of it. You glance at the clock and think of two things left to do but then return allowing the silence to tell you there is no time but only the silence of this moment or that moment that just left. Andrew Sullivan wrote this for the Huffington Post about a movie he saw and its relationship to the silence of faith.
“I’ve managed to see Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ twice in the last couple of weeks. It literally silenced me. It’s a surpassingly beautiful movie — but its genius lies in the complexity of its understanding of what faith really is.
For Scorsese, (faith is) a riddle wrapped in a mystery, and often inseparable from crippling, perpetual doubt. Faith is a result, in the end, of living, of seeing your previous certainties crumble and be rebuilt, shakily, on new grounds. God is almost always silent, hidden, and sometimes most painfully so in the face of hideous injustice or suffering.
A life of faith is therefore not real unless it is riddled with despair.
There are moments — surpassingly rare but often indelible — when you do hear the voice of God and see the face of Jesus. You never forget them — and I count those few moments in my life when I have heard the voice and seen the face as mere intimations of what is to come. But the rest is indeed silence. And the conscience is something that cannot sometimes hear itself.
Those without faith have no patience for a long meditation on it; those with faith in our time are filled too often with a passionate certainty to appreciate it. And this movie’s mysterious imagery can confound anyone. We cannot avoid this surreality all around us. But it may be possible occasionally to transcend it.”
My day ending from work is recalled, “She doesn’t talk much,” followed by “He talks way too much about himself,” followed by “I wonder what her name is?” This is all thought about in silence’s time of ten or less seconds. “Why did I do that?” brings back my past and a frown appears and a silent apology offered in timelessness’s silence.
My two cats are watching me type trying to keep their sleepy eyes open. My refrigerator’s hum continues. I read in the manual that quirky sounds may occur but not to worry about them. I only hope the same for my silent thoughts during this time of silence.