Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Morning Sounds, The Spiritual Practice of Listening and Being Silent by Nancy L. Agneberg

* 5:00 a.m. and the radio comes on. NPR story about the affordable health care bill being argued at the Supreme Court. I listen, but the dial has drifted just a bit off the station. Words are distorted. That seems somehow appropriate.
* Chimes on the front porch. Light and airy. Butterflies might be drifting between individual chimes, barely touching them, creating a modest melody. 
* Furnace coming on.  The bedroom window is open after several days of unusual May or even June weather, and the room is cold. A return to March.
* Car going by. The thud of the New York Times being tossed in the vicinity of the neighbor's front porch.
* Birds singing, adding voice to the the chime's chorus. No cranes yet this morning. Perhaps the drop in temperature has encouraged them to stay tucked in longer this morning. I feel that way, too. Bruce heard two owls calling to each other one morning. One makes its home in the woods across the street, but we've yet to see it. A someday hope. 
* A runner passing the house. Plop, flop, plop, flop till the sound drifts away. Good for her or is it him? I have never looked to see who this morning sentry might be. Bruce has left to exercise. More sounds--the door opening and shutting and the sound of the key in the lock. An act of love, it seems to me. The car starts and man and machine head down our street. Good for him. I am staying home this morning. 
* A surprising creak in the house. All the old houses we've lived in have been quite alive with sounds. Wooden stairs betraying who has stayed up later than usual watching tv. Inner walls stretching and radiator pipes talking, even arguing. This sound is like someone cracking a piece of wood in two. Karate! Not repeated. Did I really hear it?
* My fountain pen scratching across the page. Like mice inside the walls. Another one of those old house sounds.  The sound of the pen moves me along. I know when I have stopped to think. Keep moving the pen, I hear my contemplative writing teacher advise. Such a different sound from the click, clack of the computer keys. I like to see how lightly I can press them and still see words form on the screen. I recall a clerk in an office supply store who pounded, hammered the keys. Aggression released through fire-red fingernails. Her fingers must have ached by the end of the day. I always thought about saying, "Easy does it,"  to her, but I never did.
* The sound of my own silence as I enter centering prayer. The other day I heard a story on the radio about dying and someone was so sad that a friend had died alone. I don't worry about that, for I know how to be alone and I treasure silence. I practice being alone, and, of course, I know I am never alone. I wonder what the sounds will be as I enter my own dying.  
"Silence is not an absence of sound but rather a shifting of attention toward sounds that speak to the soul." Thomas Moore in The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life.
As you sit in silence, what do you hear?   

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