Wednesday, May 30, 2012

In Search of Silence

"Absolute silence leads to sadness. It is the image of death." Jean-Jacques Rousseau 

I'm not quite sure when it happened, but I've become afraid of silence. From  the time I get up, I'm constantly snatching on electronics to produce sound. Pandora, YouTube, podcasts, whatever. I use them to drown out silence.

My friend David sent me an email recently about meditating. He felt it calmed him, gave him the ability to refocus. After reading the email, I sat thinking if I could ever get to the point where I could sit and meditate quietly for an entire ten minutes. Not anytime soon. If I find the noiselessness around me disquieting, I doubt I could get comfortable with it being inside me.

The Rousseau quote above captures my feeling about silence lately. Hearing nothing is really something. When I think of life, I conjure up noise- Zoe's laughter (or, howls), the ding of my iPad with a message from my brother, Buju Banton's voice coming through speakers. It's my mom on the phone, the horn blowing from a car somewhere.

Death is... silence. Silence has become death.

"But I have stilled and quieted my soul." Psalm 131:2

Yet, I know that's not right. Despite my fear, I long for quiet. For rest. For the peace that comes with being still. Outside and in.

When my mother-in-law was staying with us this past winter, there were quite a few mornings, I'd come bustling out the bedroom, already loud with a Matt Lauer interview, and find her sitting in complete silence. Eyes shut, brown wooden rosary beads in hand.

I was amazed how she didn't even flinch at the outside noise. Not to Zoe's cries or my messing around in the kitchen.

Her fingers made quick work of each bead, moving from one to the next.

In the stillness. In the quiet.

In peace.

In silence.

I've decided to try to overcome my fear of silence. I'll start with just a couple of minutes everyday. It will be a challenge, but I know it will be well worth it.

There is much life in those pauses.


Don said...

Stimulating read. Let me ask: What were your mom-in-law's thoughts while engaged withing her inner being?

Alisha De Freitas said...

Hey Don,

Honestly, I don't know. She always laughed me off (not negatively, just like... I honestly would embarass her a bit, like I'm fussing over her, lol). I asked her how she could pray with such focus with all the racket around her and she said it is years and years of praying. I guess practice makes perfect.

It reminds me of my grandma. She prays similarly, sans rosary. She can be sitting at her kitchen table, or at church, or wherever, and eyes are shut, mouth moving quickly, but very little sound (if any). There's a ferocity with her silent prayers, but the same disciplined focus. It's awesome.

don said...

Yes, agreed, to be that more in touch with the spirit definitely speaks of a certain awesomeness. Or such ferocity within disciplined, as you said.

I don't like to sound bothersome, but I wondered your thoughts on near-death experiences, far as how it coincides with scripture. Maybe you never received the video I sent?

Alisha De Freitas said...

Uh oh... No, I didn't see a video. I switched phones and stopped getting Twitter alerts. I'm going to check through my DMs...

Don said...

Here's a link to Colton Burpo's story:

Here's one of many YouTube links:

Not sure what I believe, I did find the story interesting though. The two other people I've asked thoughts were skeptical, which is to be expected considering the impact of the story.

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