There is a silence out here at Windy Hill that is rare. I can hear the tick of the clock on the book shelf, and the muffled tread of my heartbeat in my ears, like footsteps on dry grass.
It is a wintry Sunday night. C is spending the weekend at one of our children’s home, helping her with our newest grandchild, so I am home with only Daisy the dog for company. She is stretched out on the floor at my feet, dutifully putting in her daily 14 hours’ worth of sleep. On occasion, I can hear her breathe.
I hear no television or radio, no traffic or neighbors. No jets overhead, no train, no talk, no electronic hum. Tonight, even the wind is calm. I do not believe I have ever experienced such quiet and solitude in my life until we moved to the Ozarks.
There are times when the wind can whisper and wheeze outside. It can rattle the windows and make the metal roof pop and rumble like someone is scurrying over the peak. Not tonight. The wind rests tonight.
I can see why the cloistered seek silence and solitude. In the desert of silence, one has little choice but to confront the deeper self and listen to the voice of God. I have come to realize how much those things which occupy our attention are mere distractions, especially for someone like me, who is so easily distracted. In the silence, I cannot avoid my deeper self or my conversation with God. I speak, God listens; God speaks, I listen.
I am surprised that I find the silence and the isolation comforting, not intimidating. I think I should be ill at ease, if not downright frightened, by it all. I am not. It is comforting, restful, even cleansing. Here, I can cease the chatter, the distractions, and just rest in the presence of the Divine.
There is a story of a French peasant who came to the local parish church every day and sat quietly for an hour in a pew before the tabernacle of the Blessed Sacrament. The rector saw him there daily, summer or winter, sitting quietly, and when his hour was up, he went about the rest of his day. After several years, the priest approached the fellow and complimented him on his devotion.
“I’m curious though,” the priest said. “Could you please share with me the kind of prayers you say to our Blessed Lord?”
The fellow shrugged and replied, “Oh, I just look upon the Good God, and the Good God looks upon me.”
I understand this fellow, and find it easier to look upon the Good God in silence.