It happened early this week in a small grassy field near the woods on a friend’s hilly farm just outside of Shepherdsville, Ky. It wasn’t planned, as I was merely walking toward a shed to retrieve a log.
One second I was fixed on the shed, the next– I froze, gripped by something invisible, powerful. There was no sound. Anywhere. No birdsong, no jet aircraft flying overhead, no traffic noise, no cell phone racket, no incessant television drivel, no insect buzz. A spit of fear darted through me, then a quick breath.
It had been so sudden. One step, fine, the next… what?
It had been so long that I’d forgotten, the silence of the outside. So long, in fact, that for an instant it scared me. And then, the mood reversed and I didn’t want to breathe for fear that the sound would break the magic.
I realized how much I long for silence when it’s not available. Just…silence, as sweet and pure as was the golden sunlight swirling with tumbled clouds above the field. When we are denied its wholesomeness, we are inundated with noise which becomes increasingly hard to filter. I think that scenario has negative health consequences.
So I stood there in the silence, closed my eyes, and allowed it to pour over me like a healing rain. And I realized something important. There is a difference between, say, the silence of empty, interstellar space, the quiet of our home late at night, and the silence available out in nature on the Earth. While we may never experience the total quiet of deep, empty space, we do get closer to silence in our homes in the sleeping hours of the night. We may only hear the ticking of a clock or the hum of the refrigerator. Put us outside in the stillness of nature, though, and our animal instincts awaken, reflexively spurring expectancy. And caution.
It’s then that we become aware of a startling revelation, particularly noticeable after a long period of being unplugged from nature’s beautiful hush. We sense the presence.
What is that? God? Life force? Some animating standing wave transmission of life? Is it a frequency, a baseline warble of existence detected by our deep senses?
Or how about this: Considering that we stand on a planet that spins on its axis at over a thousand miles an hour, and that we are blasting through space while spinning around the center of the galaxy at more than 490,000 miles an hour, one would think that we could hear at least some of that motion, like a far distant passing train at least. So maybe the presence is merely the muffled result on our senses of planetary dynamics.
I can’t say for sure. But I do know one thing about silence and the somehow detectable presence in nature. It is a healing force. On Tuesday, standing in that quiet field, something hit my reset button. Any negative thoughts I had carried into the field vanished when I stepped into the silence. And a few seconds later, when a companion called out to me and broke the silence, I felt better, stronger somehow. Alas, I was sorry, too, for I had been so enjoying just… being.
I need to remember that.
Aho & Namaste, my friend.
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