Enter the Sounds in Silence

The Mission of Junipero Serra, Old Town San Diego

The ceiling fan blade whirrs, almost a silent presence; a few locust hum their last songs. No birds sing in this summer of drought except for a few melodies raised the morning it rained a bit. No sirens this morning, knifing through the streets.

I like this room where I sit each morning, savoring the silence, before the day pushes me into something else. I could have easily been a cloistered nun: make bread, read, pray, write. Okay okay, so it’s probably more rigorous than that, but maybe….

I’m a big fan of Sor Juana de la Cruz, a 17th Century Mexican writer and nun. She liked silent rooms, too.

One of the many pieces of paper I’ve saved is an article from the January 1st New York Times titled “The Joy of Quiet.” The author, Pico Iyer, writes, “Nothing makes me feel better — calmer, clearer, and happier — than being in one place, absorbed in a book, a conversation, a piece of music…it’s joy, which the monk David Steindl-Rast describes as ‘that kind of happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.'”

At the bottom corner of the newspaper sheet, I wrote a Marshall McLuhan quote: “When things come at you very fast, naturally you lose touch with yourself.”

I’m getting ready to go for a visit with my siblings and my departure date is coming fast. I’m excited. It will be fabulous and fun; we’re going to my sister’s boutique hotel, Hawaii Island Retreat, which I’ve not seen since it was built although I did live in Hawaii some years back. The morning sounds will be different: the myna birds chattering conversations, the soft surration of raindrops on banana tree fronds, the maahaa-maahaa of baby goats.

But I’ll be gone ten days.

I’m gathering bits and pieces to take with me: a flash drive with current writing projects; a little pad of Post-it tabs; the requisite morning journal and books. I have lists.

This morning in my journal I was wondering at having all these bits of myself. I wrote, “Writing is what I do every day and having all my pieces helps me feel safe, I guess.”

I guess.

But Hawaii has always anchored me, the land in my blood in the same way the Kansas high plains are in my blood. And I’ll find my place, a place to sit, to listen in the silence.


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