Silence ~an Advent Quest

Silence is topical in my ecosystem*. I am reading about silence, thinking about it, seeking it, observing it,  and, sometimes, dwelling in it.

Silence, as I know it, or as I desire it,  is neither complete nor profound. It is simply stillness, calm,  and quiet, dappled with distant  bird song, the gentle ticking of a kitchen clock, and  little sighs of pleasure from a resting dog.  When I can rest fully in this silence, I am content.  But those resting periods are rare and often elusive.

With Christmas hurtling towards me  (or is it the other way round? :D), I feel a deep need  to capture more silence ; to hold it tighter as a buffer against the maelstrom of noise and nonsense which swirls in with the silly season. Yet to capture the small, transitory  silences dotted around me is hard. 

What can I do to gather in the silence?  Create a silence-catcher akin to a dream-catcher?

I read “Praying” by Mary Oliver.

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

Her words fill me with hope. There is a doorway into a wondrous silence.  There is no need to catch or harvest or grasp silence. I need only open the door, slowly and gently.

This Advent I will do just that. Silence, plentiful and peaceful,  will be my Advent quest.

Will you join me?  Each day, as part of my quest,  I  hope to post a daily image  from my place of silence. Please note the word “hope”.  🙂

December ~what does it hold for me?

As well as my images, you may also enjoy the blog posts linked below. They inspire me to think about silence.

The World According to Dina

Leaping Tracks

 

 Postscript: ecosystem*  I am amused by the current/catchword  overuse of this word. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to play with it.

I like to recycle calendars.  My friend and photographer, David Dobbs, made the featured calendar in 2017. I have added a fresh December page to the December image. I keep this calendar in my bedroom. I will eventually make a few entries on it but mostly I will leave it bare to remind me that each day is a blank canvas  to fill, or not, as I choose.    I have David’s 2018 calendar in the  kitchen.  That calendar is cluttered with appointments and reminders!

 

 

 

 

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79 thoughts on “Silence ~an Advent Quest

  1. Pingback: The Journey into Silence | Lady Budd

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Indeed! And I have had one such day, today. 😦 It started with an unexpected visit from the gutter repairman, who was supposed to be here 2 weeks ago. :
      D

      Reply
  2. utesmile

    I read Dina’s interesting post about silence too. I do love silence and happily join you. It is so good to find some peace in silence. Watching snow coming down in silence is one of the best silences I find. I used to watch it in Germany, looking out into the garden feeling the gentle snowfall, not rushed, silent and at peace with the world. I love that.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Your experiences with snowfall in Germany sound lovely, Ute. I am glad you are joining me on my quest. At the moment, I am having a quiet after lunch time. Jack is sleeping after his morning exercise. And I have had a big cup of coffee to stop me from nodding off at the computer.

      Reply
  3. shoreacres

    You got only half of my comment yesterday, because I was eager to get outdoors, and time was a-wasting. Given these shorter days, there’s no daylight to lose. So, as I was saying…

    It always feels a bit odd when I read others’ thoughts about silence, since the issue so often involves the quest for more silence in their lives. My circumstances shape my response, of course. Given my solitary work, the absence of family responsibilities, and choices I’ve made about such things as television, texting, and social media, my days are steeped in silence. I’m told again and again how much I’m missing; on the other hand, I often see and hear things that others might be missing without realizing it.

    From the Desert Fathers to mystics of every tradition, the point of external silence always has been the cultivation of internal silence. Mary Oliver’s poem points to this, as does my perhaps-favorite from Wendell Berry’s work. In his poem “The Peace of Wild Things,” he writes:

    “When despair for the world grows in me
    and I wake in the night at the least sound
    in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
    I go and lie down where the wood drake
    rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
    I come into the peace of wild things
    who do not tax their lives with forethought
    of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
    And I feel above me the day-blind stars
    waiting with their light. For a time
    I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

    How much would we all benefit from less taxing our lives with forethought of grief!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Goodness me, I find it extraordinary that you are told you are missing out because of your lifestyle. I am gobsmacked by this. That silence is integral to, or inseparable from, the way you live, is wonderful. “The Peace of Wild Things’ is a favourite poem of mine. I love it. I am reminded of it almost every time I watch my little (not very wild) dog snoozing next to me on his bean bag. He rests in the grace of the world completely.

      Reply
  4. Leya

    “There is a doorway into a wondrous silence. ” I love that. Silence the way you describe it, and shoreacres: “… sounds that deepen, rather than disturb, what we call silence.” Music to my ears. A good quest, Mandy.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh, but there is one silence which I don’t like; when my little Jack went silent the other day, it was most upsetting. He is much better now but still quieter than he was at the beginning of this week.

      Reply
  5. Steve Gingold

    Recycled calendars. We do that too. Not entirely but mostly. I have a few that I get every year relating to landscape photography, but we do have quite a backlog of old ones and the one in my bedroom is from 2007.
    The only way I can experience something akin to silence is by deeply concentrating on what is in front of me when I am photographing. Tinnitus is a constant companion and gets in the way of my hearing certain things so I really have to lose myself in something in order to not hear the ringing.

    I’ll enjoy your posts as your pursue silence.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Hooray for another calendar recycler. 😀 A few years ago I got ruthless and threw away some of my calendar stash but I still have plenty to play with! I am glad you get some relief from your tinnitus. Has it been particularly bothersome during your illness? My mother struggles with deafness, as did her father. It may be something which will trouble me in later years. Although I like silence I am not in a hurry to experience my mother’s type of silence. She finds it frustrating and sometimes frightening.

      Reply
      1. Steve Gingold

        Since I spent a lot of my time sitting quietly and napping with Bentley, the tinnitus has always been there but as with many things it sometimes drifts into the background and is somewhat unnoticed. I am not sure how much hearing loss I have, but there are certain sounds I have trouble hearing. I think I will have my hearing tested again and may opt for an aid if the loss is deemed significant.
        I am sorry for your mother’s ordeal with deafness. The loss of one of our senses can be quite troubling and uncomfortable.

        Reply
  6. Michele LaFollette

    I just unpacked my Mary Oliver books with a big smile on my face! I don’t think I’m going to find much quiet until the holidays are over, but I’m pursuing contentment with a mantra that goes like this: You don’t have to have all the boxes unpacked, you’ll find a new hair salon, you’ll learn your way around soon enough, Christmas will be lovely without all the decorations on display, etc., etc I wish for you whatever your heart desires today and in the new year.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, I have been thinking about the busy time you must be having. I like your mantra. It is comforting. And here is a smile for you. We have been in our current home for almost 19 years; there are still boxes in the attic which haven’t been properly unpacked!!!!! And probably never will be because they are so dust covered I don’t want to go near them. I am sure your Christmas will be lovely. Enjoy the journey. 🙂

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am sure they do. 🙂 When I was a child, growing up in Fiji, many families had a rest time ( a small siesta) after the midday meal. I didn’t like being still and quiet at the time but, looking back, I am sure those quiet times were beneficial. And the noise levels back then were insignificant to those we experience today!!!

      Reply
  7. thecontentedcrafter

    This is a lovely invitation dear Gallivanta! I do so love the poems of Mary Oliver! She has a new(ish) book out which is on my wishlist still……. My ongoing quest is to dwell in silence for at least a while every day. Silence, I think, is found within. And I have to breathe my way down into it and then hold myself there, far away from the chatter in my head for however long I can. It is a discipline I think. Strangely I find it easiest to dwell there when my hands are busy in the soil, or creating something in my art room. Sitting still and entering the silence is a great challenge to me! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Dear Pauline, sitting still and entering silence is a huge challenge for me, too. By nature I think I am a fidgeter and a sigher. 😀 I watched a video of myself a few months ago and I couldn’t believe how much I fidgetted and wriggled. After watching that video I came away with complete admiration for the Queen who somehow sits with such poise and calm, all the time, in public. I am glad you are with me on my quest for silence. 🙂

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Indeed, indeed, it is. Which makes me wonder; is a silent protest more effective than a loud one if we want to make a change in the world? I guess both have their place and their time. I am remembering the noisy peace protests I once went to in my youth!

      Reply
      1. Mél@nie

        1st of all: welcome back with another awesome post! 2nd of all: have a peaceful and merry December! ❤

        @"I am remembering the noisy peace protests…" – they still exist and take place in our "old Europe"… 🙂
        * * *
        we've also recycled calendars for years… 🙂

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Thank you, I will do my best to have a peaceful December, making the most of each day as it happens. And, yes, I have been watching some noisy protests in old Europe. Noise can be productive but it’s better if the noise comes without violence and property damage. 😦 And better still would be if we didn’t have to protest at all. 🙂 Hooray, I am glad you are also a calendar recycler.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Liz, I look forward to sharing some silence with you during Advent. I am guessing you have been incredibly busy with preparations for the publication of your book. 🙂

      Reply
  8. KerryCan

    That’s a beautiful poem–I count on my blog friends to introduce me to just the right poems since I am hopeless at finding them myself. I relish a good bit of quiet, internal and external. It’s not so easy to come by! I think seeing your daily photos may help!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, I also count on my blog friends for poetry introductions but this poem I found on my own, as I was reading some of Mary Oliver’s other poems. I am glad you find it beautiful, too. With reference to your lastest post, do you know Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese? http://www.thepoetryexchange.co.uk/uncategorized/wild-geese-by-mary-oliver/ Fingers crossed my daily photos will be daily. They will also be amateur, akin to a ‘few words patched together’. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Cynthia Reyes

    Beautiful. This time is made up of long stretches of silence and the busyness of physical preparations for Christmas. I will try to honour those silent moments. Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It sounds as though you will have a nice balance of silence and busyness. Will you be in charge of Christmas decorations this year? Your house always looks so beautiful and welcoming at Christmas time. And then there is your Christmas cake…..what I would give for a taste of that!

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I like the way you spell ecosystem as echo-system. Most apt. Thank you very much for the link to the documentary. Unfortunately, I can’t see the whole doco ( content not available in my area) but the trailers and interviews on it are most interesting. It’s probably very close to home in view of the issues of care and questions of guardianship we have had with my daughter. Mental health issues are extraordinarily difficult and complex and very under-resourced.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Jo. It is a tricky balance. I wouldn’t want silence all the time, and there are some sounds, like the sea, which I love as much as silence.

      Reply
      1. shoreacres

        But there is no perfect silence, is there? The are sounds which disturb silence, but there also are sounds, like the ocean, which no more disturb silence than wind disturbs water when it sighs across it. The wind in the forest; the repetitive cooing of a dove; the splash of a midnight fish — these all are sounds that deepen, rather than disturb, what we call silence.

        Reply
  10. Liz

    A beautiful post, Mandy, and thanks for linking to my blog. Since I wrote that post, I have been reading Kagge’s wonderful book and have come to think of silence a physical entity, just as you describe so eloquently – something in which to reside. I look forward to your meditations on this through advent (of course, not posting something one day could be a wonderful way of expressing silence! 😉 ).

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am so pleased to hear you are reading Kagge’s book. I haven’t managed to do so but I am reading a small book on Antarctica, a place which inspired his latest book. Yes, if I miss a day, I will claim I am perfecting silence. In reality, if I miss a day, it will be because I have succumbed to chaos. 😀

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Amazing and very useful, considering you are entering into winter and potential snowfalls. 🙂 Speaking of snowfalls, I remember my first experience of very heavy snow in Manhattan. I woke in the night to complete silence and a strange misty light filtering through the blinds. I thought something terrible had happened, so with fast beating heart I crept to the window to see what was going on. How I laughed at myself when I saw that Manhattan had come to a standstill because of snow.

        2. Gallivanta Post author

          Yep. Incredibly funny when daylight came, too, and I had to get to work, walking through massive amounts of snow. I didn’t have any boots but I had a pair of Danish clogs which were absolutely brilliant.

  11. Juliet

    Ah, silence! I like your idea of finding doorways into the silence. And the blank calendar. I used to keep a visual diary in calendars like that. The small squares suited me just find, and the images took me into the silence beyond words.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That’s a wonderful idea, Juliet. There are so many interesting possibilities. I love learning about them all. Perhaps I will try a visual calendar in January.

      Reply

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