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.