Making Room for Silence

In his poem “Keeping Quiet” Pablo Neruda begins with this:

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.


As I read it, I am thinking: The well is dry.

Have you had those times in your own life?

Those times when try as you might to find restoration within

there is nothing there

only parched, dry, places, yearning for a drop of something to

make it to the next moment.

It feels crusty doesn’t it?

The incessant rush of activity that pushes from behind

or pulls at us, tugging without ceasing.

 

“Without ceasing.”

 

Often, during our morning check-in, my spiritual companion

will set her intention for the day to “pray without ceasing”

borrowing from Annie Dillard.

I have often thought of that prayer as one with words,

whether they are spoken out loud or remain caught in my throat,

swirling in my mind, dancing in my heart…they were always words.

 

But. Dillard isn’t talking about words.

In fact, she says: “the silence is all there is”

she says “pray to the silence.”

And I think: move right into the silence. Parched and wanting respite from

a life of constant motion.

 

Recently, I read something that caught my attention:

 

“Cornelia is ninety-four years old. She is a beloved founding member

of the board of Bread for the Journey.

Every afternoon she rests – if she can, so busy is her daily

schedule of appointments – because when she rests things fall away,

she says, and come clearer.”

 

Every afternoon, in the midst of her busy daily schedule, she rests.

She pauses

She restores

She, in the silence, makes room for stresses to fall away.

For life to grow clearer.

 

That…working and resting every day is a recipe for

nourishing the soul…

Is a kind of praying without ceasing.

Using the hands and heart;

welcoming the stillness,

the silence.

 

Neruda, says it this way as he closes his poem:

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

 

 

 

 

 


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