The Gift of Silence

27 Feb

Playtime in the Kitchen

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

This week I am inspired by my friend Arielle in Austin who has taken a 3 day vow of silence.

Many years ago, I practiced what I called “Silent Sundays.”  A day for peace of mind, to refresh my soul and re-set for the week to come.  One day each week that I took to be quiet.  Not that I was passive, mind you.  I typically cleaned the whole house on Sundays and cooked big meals.  Sundays were all about mindfulness for me.  Awakening to other means of communicating, perceiving and looking within.

On particularly uneventful Sundays, I would also blindfold myself and go about my daily routine at home without sight or voice.  Those were some of my most profound experiences because I was forced to face my fears and vulnerabilities.

There was always this stage of resistance and agitation.  I wanted to just utter a word, shove the blindfold away in frustration.  But eventually, as the day wore on, I would realize that what I had to say, I could say inside.. and be heard.  What I wanted to see, I could feel and hear.  Scent became an acute sense and every little sound piqued my interest.

Finally I would come to a place of acceptance in the process and just sort of fall into it.  Becoming one with the moment.  Allowing the experience completely.  Releasing the fight within.  And in that space of silence, my whole body would relax, as if melting.  Nothing to prove.  No point to make.  No reason to pretend.  Just being.

What a relief that time was.  Opening myself up and falling together within.

One Sunday I took a trip to town to shop for some office furniture.  I had cut out the advert and stuffed it in my pocket, not even considering how I would manage a shopping trip.. silently.

When I arrived, I showed the advertisement to a kid who worked at the store.  Jeremiah was his name.  I suspect he was 17 or 18.

He looked at me and started talking very loud, supposing I was deaf and mute.  *smiles*  Then he led me to the place where I could get what I was looking for.  I went about my business as he wandered off, noticing that he never let me out of eyesight.  I felt relieved to have had the assistance minus the pressure.

As I hoisted up my goods, Jeremiah came rushing back to help me to the register.  I smiled in appreciation, noticing how well we communicated without the words.

I finished checking out and he wished me well as I dashed off happily into a light rain.  Once I got everything loaded and started the car, I was struck by how soft I felt inside.  I must have sat there in this stunned euphoria for 15 minutes.  I was feeling a kind of safety that I had not experienced as an adult.  A knowingness that no matter my limitations, real or imposed, I would be ok.  More than that, I would be taken care of and assured.

I found out that a week later, this young Jeremiah was killed in a car accident.  Needless to say, I felt the great depth and weight of the gift he gave me that amazing Sunday.  To this day, when I think of that experience, I am reminded to enjoy the space between the words and allow each precious moment to be exactly as it is.

2 Responses to “The Gift of Silence”

  1. Rose March 4, 2011 at 3:42 am #

    This is such a beautiful picture of a moment in your life. Silent Sundays sound like a fantastic idea!!! I remember for many years in my 20’s I would rarely say a thing – I seriously remember days I would not say a single thing to anyone. Unfortunately back then many of the thoughts I had were very negative. I think NOW I would enjoy the “silence” so much more though 🙂 I am glad that Jeremiah was able to touch you in that way. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. xo


    • Lynn Van Noy March 10, 2011 at 11:15 am #

      Thank you, Rose. Your words touch me. I understand silence as a means of isolating oneself but it’s so sweet when you get to this place of freedom where silence is a choice and a gift. Jeremiah was a part of that gift for me. *hugs*


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