Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sound of Silence

Simon and Garfunkel, the folk troubadours of the last century sang a song I listened to over and over again as a youngster some forty years ago.

Hello darkness, my old friend,
Ive come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains-
Within the sound of silence.

The song continues and you can read the rest of the lyrics here. I can't say the song offered anything definitive to me, save for the assurance that melancholy was not unique to me. In Paul Simon, I had a friend who dared pen some of the substance of his interior life; at least I attributed Simon's words to his own experience...and surely they were-whose experience has he but his own, and me mine? I felt calmed by the song in a way I can scarcely describe with a few years of life gone by.

It has been an interesting week at the beach. Usually a good place to reflect and sit in silence; there's been more silence during the day than normal, as I am not tapping on keys to draft indictments, or chatting away on the phone to marshall evidence. Strangely, when I am away from the places where silence is a treasure, like work, I can still conjure the noise of contempt and worry in my head. I can hear voices of dread and terror. I long for the peace of silence and rest but they are fleeting. If I were to hope for this empty hope's sake and lean on my own doing this yearning for peace would always be elusive.

What if, like Elijah before me, I could sit still and wait? Trust in God when I'd rather not? Believe when I cannot see? Submit to the deafening roar of silence, and fall sorrowing? Then, even then, when there are no words of comfort, he is true to his word. He calls o'er the tumult of no sound and whispers his astonishing love.

I think it part of my gifting from him who brings all good things to write to you. No matter how long or how well I may do so, I will not be able to convey the utterness of God-that is for eternity to reveal, after we've shaken off the mortal coils that bind us here. This side of heaven cannot contain him. Giving up to silence is a discipline like speaking and writing. We know on some level there is a grandness to extol, a story of his majestic nature to tell. Charles Simic said it well:

"Poetry is an orphan of silence. The words never quite equal the experience behind them. We are always at the beginning, eternal apprentices."

May the joy of this apprenticeship be profound, may he be glorified in my silence and my speech.

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