Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Listening to the Silence

One thing that feeds the soul is solitude. While solitude can be an inner quality such as inner peace, it can also be external. I seek external solitude in places that are away from people, traffic, and noise. Fortunately, there is a wonderful nature preserve called Devil's Den that is a 20 minute drive from my home (I am aware of the irony that one of the important places in my spiritual life is called Devil's Den).

A few days ago, after I finished my work, I headed to Devil's Den for an hour of snowshoeing. Since we've had 4 major snowstorms over the past 6 weeks, there was plenty of snow-- up to 3 feet in most places! Because it was a cold Friday afternoon, I was the only person there.

I was enjoying the exertion of snowshoeing when I stopped for a drink of water. Suddenly I heard it. Silence. There was no wind. No birds were singing. Just silence. I stood there for several minutes, not wanting to break the spell. I watched the sunlight filter through low clouds and took in the beauty of the brilliant white snow.

So often, we don't know what we're missing until we experience it. I realized that such silence is all too rare in my life. While driving, I listen to the radio. While walking in my town, there are sounds of traffic. Even when I'm alone at home with no appliances on, there are sounds of wood creaking and the heater blowing. Silence is also rare in nature with the sounds of wind, birds, streams and boots hitting the trail.

There are few things that feed the soul like silence. Finding times and places of stillness can help soothe the mind and calm the soul. However, our ability to enjoy silence depends on whether we have cultivated inner solitude as well. More about that in another blog.

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