Thursday, May 15, 2008

the sound of silence

I seek silence. I seek to create a place that encourages and honors quiet and stillness. Among the beautiful sanctuaries of Spirit First, however, is a music meditation sanctuary. One might ask why I have a space devoted to sound in the middle of grounds set apart for promoting silence, and my answer is this…it is the beauty of sound that has brought me the gift of silence.

Today I practice going to a place of silence. Some people think of silence as the absence of sound but I find silence to be so much more. Imagine for a moment how you might describe music to someone who has never heard any sound…I have an equally profound c
hallenge in describing the richness of silence. Silence is no more a singular place than music is a single note. I find silence to have layers and directions just as we find in the world of sound. Silence is full and rich. And it was the beauty of sound that became my portal to discovering silence.

In the beginning I found a place of meditation in music. Sacred music. Classical music. New age music. Contemporary Christian music. Softly and gently a perfect melody would soothe me and quiet me, melt me. Music became a resting place, a place to pause from my thinking mind and the troubles of the day. I had two worlds…the cacophony of noise in the world (which is in my head) and my reprieve of music. I did not know silence.

I began to use music as a meditation. Alone in my room I danced with it. I sat with it. I lay on the floor and melted into it. Music became for me a place of sanctuary. One day as I reached for the stereo dial, my hand stopped just before turning on the music, I paused to listen to nothing, and that moment became the beginning of my stepping into silence. I “listened” to silence. I found a clear difference between being in a place absent of sound and being in a place of listening to silence (silence is to be “listened” to). It lasted for just a moment, but it was the beginning of my understanding. I returned again and again to listen to music and then to listen to silence when the music stopped. In that beginning I found music to be a beautiful place of transition, a place for me to begin to remove the noise of the day and prepare myself for a place of silence, similar to a place of removing soiled clothing and bathing one’s self in preparation for entering holy ground.

Today I step into silence much more easily and no longer need sound to lead me there. I still love music, though, and it still melts me and opens me. The perfect sound of a flute playing Ave Maria or a single tone in the voice of Felicia Rose moves me to tears.

Silence is not created by sound but rather it is sound that comes forth out of silence. Silence is the source. Be that as it may be, it is the contrast of sound that distinguishes for us the place of silence. Sound becomes our road marker. And I shall be forever grateful for the gift of sound that has led me to silence.

photography by permission

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