Sit silently

Matt enjoys the silence at the conservatory in Golden Gate Park. San Francisco, October 2003

Matt enjoys the silence at the conservatory in Golden Gate Park.
San Francisco, October 2003

“We sit silently and watch the world around us. This has taken a lifetime to learn …silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. This is the great paradox.”Nicholas Sparks

In keeping with the truth of this quote, I won’t add anything except to say thanks for being here, sharing what is said and, maybe even more importantly, what isn’t said.  Together we will watch the world around us today, mostly silently, drawn together by the shared experience.

One year ago today:

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  1. bobmielke

    I never realized how much I treasure silence until I moved into my present home with Paul. Even though he’s a musician he respects my peace and quiet and often takes his instruments out to the garage to play. The neighborhood here is so quiet you can hear a pin drop any time of the day or night. It’s blissful. I never will get used to noisy, screaming children next door. The world can keep them.

    • Bob, I think anyone who works with school children ought to get a medal – and protective ear plugs! It used to amaze me how DEAFENING the roar of the cafeteria was all the time. In high school, the noise would get Matt so overstimulated and distracted that his IEP team arranged for him and a few friends to have lunch (brown bag) in one of the classrooms where the teacher was working on her prep period. The teachers said even the kids who did NOT have special needs preferred to eat elsewhere. And then there’s the school bus – which I don’t even like to think about. I am glad you are in a quiet place now. The noise of children can be music to my ears at times, but it’s the kind of music that one needs to have an on/off switch to enjoy. 😀

      • bobmielke

        Thinking back at my 43 year working career my happiest years were on Midnight shift working alone in an empty maintenance building. I like quiet and solitude. I didn’t do as well with the new “team” philosophy in workplaces.

        • Bob, when I started graduate school at UH, I had to adjust to their basic philosophy of learning, wherein almost everything we did was done in teams or small groups. It took me awhile to get used to it, though I came to appreciate and value the experience. Contrary to what some people may think, though, it’s actually much harder to work as part of a group than in solitude. In a school environment, I think it can be the most effective way to learn, if the teachers are on the ball enough to hold each student accountable (and ours at UH definitely were; MAHALO to all of them). When I worked at Piedmont/USAir I used to love the late night and holiday shifts, because the pace was slower and more quiet. Never solitude, but as close to it as I wanted to get during those years when I was home all day with babies too young to hold an adult conversation! 😀

  2. 🙂

  3. Today really requires little more than a heartfelt “thank you” and blessings to all. 🙂

    • Sheila, that’s quite a lot – a heartfull, actually! Thank you. ❤

  4. singleseatfighterpilot

    First – I think I will print this photo of Matt, in epitome, and hang it on my wall.
    Secondarily – this morning found me sitting silently in my sanctuary, the woods (not capitalized). I must have been quite still. A little wren flew up and alighted only two feet from my face. (I saw one deer, but that too was secondary.)

    • I’m glad you like the photo! That was a fun day for Matt and me, just the two of us in San Francisco for the day. Thanks for sharing your sweet moment with the wren. I love to watch the birds and I especially like it when (in reality or my imagination) they make eye contact with me from close range. Wrens are especially adorable to me because they are so tiny.

    • I love that visual….. 🙂

  5. Sitting in silience with my closest friends, especially my husband, used to bother me many years ago. But now it is lovely. It is holy. It is beauty! 🙂

    • Like you, I appreciate silence much more than I used to. In fact, the older I get, the better I like it. I have surprised myself in recent years by often preferring silence to even my favorite music. I don’t remember that happening much when I was younger. I do love reading silently with friends or family nearby also reading, and that’s something I always enjoyed.

      • I usually read as late as I can at night when the house is quiet. It’s the only way I can concentrate! 🙂

        • I do the same, only I fall asleep most of the time if I do that. In fact, I read myself to sleep almost every night. Not a bad way to doze off.

          • I used to fall asleep reading, but I rarely do any more! It’s the best way to doze off, though.

            • I’m looking forward to doing that very thing tonight! I love my Kindle Paperwhite because I can read with the lights off. Almost like being a kid with a flashlight.

              • I could never use one of those. I can’t even read on a computer for very long. I think the light bothers my eyes or something!

                • Jeff got me the Paperwhite because it is supposed to be most like a real book page, and I find that it really is the best of the tablets I have tried, when it comes to reading a book. I was dubious but I have really gotten hooked on it. But nothing will replace the good old-fashioned book for me. I think there is a lot of research to demonstrate that screens are not good for us. Something about the lighting messes with our brains.

                  • Yes, computer screens, tv screens, phones, etc. People are inundated with this way of communicating or receiving information, and our eye doctor said she has more kids coming in who need glasses than she has ever had!

                    • Wow, not a good sign. Vision is so important. I can’t help but wonder if someday future generations will look back on our machine obsessions and shudder.

                    • Probably! Technology isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!

                    • “The problem’s plain to see,
                      Too much technology,
                      Machines to save our lives,
                      Machines de-humanize” — from a song I love, “Mr. Roboto” by Styx

                    • Yep, I know that one! So true!! 🙂

                    • I love the 70’s and 80’s rock.

                    • Me, too. My 15 year old daughter is loving 80’s stuff right now, even some of the movies like The Breakfast Club.

                    • I really liked that movie. “Demented and sad, but social.” 😀 One of my favorite lines. Could be said about a lot of online activity nowadays.

                    • So true. I happened to catch it on T.V. the other day and recorded it. We have yet to watch it again, but I love the burn-out guy. My husband says he is just like a friend he used to have in high school. 🙂

                    • I think one thing that was so appealing about that movie is that we could all recognize the characters as being like people we had known in high school. Maybe even been one of them ourselves. 😀

  6. Very true statement by Sparks. Quiet time is the best of prayers. When we are but still and quiet God does the talking and we listen. We come to know ourselves better in this exercise, because God knows us best.

    • Alan, it took me a long time to really understand that connecting to God through prayer does not require that any words come or go. How true that God is in the best position to help us come to know ourselves. With God, no explanations are needed; the author doesn’t require our commentary to grasp the whole picture. What a comfort, and when I’m exhausted, what a respite!

  7. Jack

    “Speak only if it improves the silence.” In my experience, it often doesn’t.

    Just returned from my annual golf vacation with 7 lifelong friends. I spoke more in 36 hours than I’ve spoken in 36 days. Time for a rest!

    • Jack, those talk-intensive times can be SO fun, but also exhausting! I can tolerate it a lot better than Jeff can, though, especially with close friends and family. Still, it’s nice to be able to retreat to silence after such excursions. I’m glad you had a nice vacation, and especially that you are keeping ties with lifelong friends. It adds a wonderful dimension to life to be able to spend time with people who knew us before so many years made us older wiser and more mature.

  8. raynard

    Julia, I once heard a jazz song and the first verse went like this.. ‘say it with silence cause silence can say it much better than words”.. I digress

    • Raynard, I think that’s true, but somehow I don’t remember it nearly as often as I should! 😀 I digress even when I am silent because my mind goes in so many directions.

  9. Beautiful picture of Matt. 🙂

    • Thank you, Merry. I like it too. It’s rare to have a photo of him not smiling – I sort of have to sneak up on him because he usually grins for the camera.

  10. MaryAnn

    I agree w/ your brother: this photo of Matt is a treasure to be valued! How calming to view him, as he is peacefully contemplating. Give Matt a big hug from me, please!

    • Thank you Mary Ann. Matt is always delighted to hear from you. I will give him that hug.

  11. Michael

    Matt looks like he is “tuned in” to the silence. That takes a special kind of awareness and concentration. “Those who are comfortable with each other can sit in silence,” also has something to say about prayer.
    I think those are beautiful hibiscus in the picture. They don’t do quite as well in the Northwest- but we did have one “Rose of Sharon” that last seven years.

    • I love hibiscus and really miss them. Our entire back yard was a hedge of them that we planted when we first moved there to cover the chain link fencing of base housing. In no time at all they grew so big you couldn’t see the fence, and bloomed profusely all year round. Bright red. Our Rose of Sharon has violet blooms and it does OK, but I don’t think it’s getting enough sun; it’s sort of leggy.

  12. Michael

    I think Precious Ramotswe would agree with the quote. She is someone who seems perfectly content to watch nature around her- cows chewing the grass etc.- in silence, from her veranda. I think that is part of her secret and one that very few white people understand.

    As per above perhaps those whom are advanced in their prayer life actually have fewer and fewer words to say.

    • McCall Smith is a genius at character development, I think. Mma. Ramotswe is a woman of relatively few words, but the things she says are comforting, profound, or sometimes both. Her contentment and patience is a great inspiration. Needless to say, I am much more like Mma. Makutsi, 97% and all! 😀

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