Friday, March 10, 2006

Good old fashioned Quiet.

be still and know

a characteristic of my parent's home will always be for me, beautiful quiet. we didn't have tvs or even radios until i was about ten, i think. as a four year old, i'd wake up from my naps to watch my mom in the midst of her weeding the garden. sometimes she'd spend whole afternoons 'getting into the word', as she'd put it. if she made a phone call, she'd announce 'the purpose of her call, make the plan or the request, and close with a: "right then, goodbye". she's not one for idle words.

one lent, before i was baptized into the orthodox tradition, i gave up talking. it lasted about 11 days. it was extremely powerful. creepy crud seem to float to the surface throughout, but my sleeps were sounder and deeper than ever. my senses were enlivened. it was as though i were coming back to life.

in my many seasons of coming and going from canada in my early 20s, what would restore me most, would be to paw through a box of postcards and letters, stashed away, in what we call my parents loft. i'd spend hours up there.

i just read on 'come receive the light' that "one of the early church fathers declared that the language of heaven is silence. there seems to be a power to silence that allows all the noise of this world to die away and to help us focus on the “still, small voice” that reveals the true nature of things. our lives are filled with sound. everywhere there is “noise” for our eyes and mind as well. we are people who are suffering from sensory overload. it shows in the fractured lives we lead and how we have had to so compartmentalize our lives to survive this onslaught of “noise.” i remember driving back into vancouver one night, after a presanctified liturgy with my friend seraphim a few years ago. i was struck by the billboards along grandview highway in a new way. The preceeding hour and a half had so taken me out of my usual realm, and put me in such a different headspace that it was as though i was looking at the world through new eyes.

Jesus saw the need to regularly get alone with His Father to strengthen His soul, like my mom would. There is a story told by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom (of blessed memory) in his book, Living Prayer, about an old Orthodox man who would sit in church for hours in front of the icon of Jesus without saying a word. When asked about this, the old man replied, “I look at Him, and He looks at me, and we are happy together.”

the past couple of weeks have been incredibly busy, many days on end not sitting down in the quiet until after midnight.. i don't know why i've been choosing this way. it's terrible. it robs me of seeing the goodness in others and tends to make me impatient, ugly and eventually sick. i become nasty and ungrateful, the worst version of me.

so i need to get back on track. and in between the usual good lenten responsibilities, if it warms up i might sneak down to spanish banks to just stare out for a while.


elizabeth said...

thank you for this post KF. how greatly we need silence... blessings as you as you seek this...

kimberley said...

thanks elizabeth. you too.

elizabeth said...

thank you

Matthew Francis said...

This does my heart good...

I remember that silent lent in Calgary! How difficult and powerful it was.

But yes, this kind of warm, welcoming quiet you are describing does my heart good.

mark the spark said...

thanks kimberly.

i think what i need to work on, is an 'internal silence' as well. i can be so quick to fill silence with rapid thinking.
i need to make more space.

let's do a lenten community meal before too long.

myn said...

i agree on all of this Kim. my world is so busy right now that i feel constantly on the go. being quiet now feels odd to me. i should attempt some quiet times sometime soon. i do find that sometimes my brain can feel quiet even in times of noise. when i go for a long walk i have my MP3 player with me. i find the music balnks out the sound of the traffic etc but it also somehow makes me feel like i am in a quiet place. like the music isn't getting all the way into my brain. not sure if this makes sense or not.

kimberley said...

i think i kind of know what you mean. when i was commuting in Calgary, i'd listen to the Prayer Cycle CD or the St. Herman Octet-what shall i render (funny enough, years before I knew anybody in Langley) I found the commute challenging with so much noise and visual stimulation. with the music i'd become more able to rest and then start to REALLY see what was going on around me, (usually alot of mentally ill folks riding the rails to keep warm.)

On Thursday, Mark is hosting a community meal at his place at 5pm. The idea is, for those would appreciate a quiet simple meal together, to spend some extra time during lent, not necessarily talking but taking a meal together as a community, travelling along a common road. This will be our first. All are welcome. There will be others if you are unable to attend.

Stacy said...

Some of my most powerful moments in life have been experienced in silence!

You quoted not only my favorite passage from Psalms but also one of my favorite quotes from the Fathers! Nice!

Indeed... thank you!

Ken said...

Kim, this is the second time I've read your post. I love the mental image of you going through the box of letters in the loft. Although, I'm sure you were more gentle than the "pawing" implied.

I just realized we have the same initials. Hmmmm. I've seen them pop up in other comments and wondered who that might be.