Over the next few weeks let’s look at what silence is, what it’s good for, and how to make it, taking on a little bit of each of these questions at a time. Then we’ll see where we are and go from there.
These are the rumors I’ve heard, and there’s nothing new here, but here’s some inciting accident.
Silence is a positive act and a charged space – a radical listening in perfect patience (or patience as perfect as it can be), with a fruitful turning-and-turning-back to animate emptiness. We’re ready, with all of our creative capacities, for direct response to what can only be the First Thing – the calling of our names, which draws us to a readiness to respond, a dialogue framed in questions. A creative process often begins with the verging metaphor of “You?” plus “Yes?”
This is a deeply productive environment. When the noise starts up again after a period of silence, we’re amazed to discover all that’s happened – a clarity cleared, or even material produced unwittingly (writing, thinking). These outcomes bear the nature of silence into their function, because they come forward without the clanging imperatives of sale (other assessments), or memory (and other ownings/owings).
We can get to silence by not talking, and by keeping still – but external rules can also lock us up with a lot of blather. We can shut up and shut down to give ourselves the hollow of a locked boxy, or – we can be empty like an open door. [All of this must be available on fortune cookies; I bet I’m quoting something.]
We can also be recognizably, visibly active in our silence (Sr. Wendy drinks coffee); silence is a disposition that can be maintained all the time. More on that tomorrow.