Thursday, January 31, 2013

S2, Episode 22: Silence

Silence is a true friend who never betrays.
With the longest writers block since the invention of writing, I reflected, questioned, brainstormed, discussed, wrote, and journaled for "another story," another post that'll keep my views stats high for the month, that'll keep satisfying whoever reads my blog. That you, the reader, would spend this time to read the insights of what I have to say is admirable, a middle class American with a decent education and not anything really spectacular to show for. But what can I share with you and in turn, how will it benefit humanity?

The waves of change swept over my life as I got back from my trip. I was back in the Pacific Northwest! I graduated college. I taught music abroad. I had lived on a bicycle for 100 days. Now all of that is done, what next? How can I top that? A new chapter has unfolded in my life and slowly it dawned on me: I have nothing. And so I stayed silent. If I had nothing of value to say, if my next post was going to be a rant, or another story just for the sake of storytelling and ego, what weight does that give to my experiences and to my future? I stood blog silent through the holiday season, spending time with my family and closest friends, I still had nothing. Is this it? Shall I wash my hands clean and leave this, my modest following, this sacred cyberspace of sharing intimate anecdotes? No, we've come to this space to share ideas and thoughts as if we are sitting across the table drinking coffee and catching up like old times. So here, my 2¢: silence.

St. John's Abbey Church- Collegeville, MN
The blog silence has allowed much reflection and the only thing that I can write about is just that- silence. Take a moment, turn off Spotify, close the extra tabs of YouTube personalities and Wikipedia articles. Listen to this story. And try this :

Listen to the hum of the computer. Listen to your breath. The in breath and the out breath. Be aware of the body, the posture, the slouch, the relaxing and tensing of muscles. Notice what time of day it is, the temperature of the environment, the aroma around the space. Notice the traffic outside, or the buzz of people, or the sound of mingling family or co-workers, or friends. Then notice the in, then out breath.

Feel better? I do. But how does that help our daily lives? We simply exist in the moment of now and soak in the wonderful world we have been privileged to be a part of. One person said to me once, "Listen to the world, and you will be rewarded a hundred-fold."

Holy Cross in Boston, MA
With Hurricane Sandy approaching, I sought refuge in Boston. After the lots of wind and rain passed, the nation was mourning the loss of lives, livelihood, houses and a place to call home. I took in mostly second accounts of the nation despite being on the eastern seaboard. I could tell you that I volunteered at the red cross to move sandbags, or gave out gas or served at a soup kitchen. I could tell you that I gave the little possessions I had away to people who probably could have used some warmer clothes. I could have told you that I made a difference in indifference. But I didn't. I went on my somber, melancholic way to spending Thanksgiving with family in New Jersey & New York. Then I remembered the time I was at a monastery in New Hampshire.

Morning - the church bells rang. Then silence. It was cold sitting in St. Anselm's Abbey church. It was dark with some candles that seemed to provide no heat. It was only November; how could it get any colder? I knew it was the immensity of the space of brick, wood and glass. I sat in my place with my hood and looked to the darkness of the rest of the church. The sun hadn't risen yet, though the monks of St. Anselm's Abbey gathered to sing and meditate. If the monks around me were drifting in and out of sleep or actively meditating, I couldn't decide, but I knew I was still hazy from waking up minutes ago. My mind wanders nonetheless.

The sun starts to rise and give light to the day. The stained glass windows give a faint color at first, as if waking up themselves, then harmoniously give an aura of  hospitality. The cold fades, the darkness fades and begin to see the vastness of the space.

Midday - the windows give a warm presence to the church. On the right, reds and blues signify the Holy Spirit, on the left, greens and reds symbolize Jesus, and in the middle, all the colors blend to embody almighty God watching over us.

Evening - I come back and stand in the center of the circular church. It's quiet. Then I realize that my own self becomes quiet- my thoughts and heart, all reveling in the serenity of light, sound, and existence. It's as if nature and the people that came before me tell their story, where we are closest to God, tapping into that chi, that "Zen" state, not outside of me but within and around me.

And I realized it was just that: allowing the silence of one's surroundings and within one's soul that reconnects us to everything. So I add, "listen to the world and within yourself, and you will be rewarded a hundred-fold."

Until next time.