Monday, October 12, 2015

The True, Blessed Quiet of Monday

It's a foggy morning outside the big picture window here in the kitchen. Overnight, our raspberry leaves are becoming more golden, less green. There is work outside which will wait for the afternoon...

...for now, I wait for my second cup of tea to steep and drink in the silence of our house. Off in the distance, some landscaping equipment is growling along, destroying vegetation (sounds like a wood chipper). Other than that dull buzz and the now-noise-concealing hum of the fridge which just kicked on, it is peaceful. No human words, no bids for my attention, just the timer signalling that the tea is ready to be poured.

Silence is something which is valued and treasured. It's almost an endangered species in some ways: we are raising children who crave constant stimulation which comes with lots of noise. Our entire culture seems to have replaced the sun with screens as the center of our individual universes. I'm guilty of that as well, after a fashion-- sometimes it's not easy to pull out of the spoon-fed entertainment world and to tend to real life. Writing on this laptop does help, though, in that it makes  me focus on what's around me in my own real world.

In true Monday fashion, what's around me is this, in no significant order:
Floors which need sweeping and wiping (again)
A basket of laundry which needs emptying
A counter and sink full of stoneware, china and glass waiting to be washed
The old duvet cover, recently replaced, waiting at the bottom of the basement stairs to be washed and then stored.
And a yard full of leaves to be raked up to add to the compost pile

This morning I was so happy to know I was coming home to a quiet house, nothing mattered. Quick, cursory breakfast of veggie sausage on toast spread with Chevremousse (if you can't have cows milk cream cheese, this is the best thing ever!). We left early for school so Kiddo could ride his scooter and play with his friends before the bell rang. I had made a bunch of balloon 'fidgets' (stress balls,  you can find the activity here) for his classroom and the look of absolute surprise and delight on his teacher's face when I handed her the bag was so lovely--

I'm sure she values quiet as well.

It is the quiet which allows our minds to wander and discover new ideas, new solutions. This isn't a universal thing, but I do my best thinking in the quiet moments-- absolutely the best thinking happens in the shower. The white noise of the water and the fan drown out everything else and allows me be present in that moment. Which is what I should have been telling my own parents when they complained about my long showers: I'm thinking in here! Be happy I'm using my brain!

The promise of quiet makes me happy beyond measure. On Saturday Joe took Kiddo out to run errands. I folded four loads of laundry in a silence which was like a balm, soothing the irritation of a morning full of demands. See how I remember this? Quiet laundry folding time was a gift, not a chore. This morning, knowing I'd be coming back to a tranquil house, I had more patience for Kiddo's endless desire to be reading comic books instead of getting ready for school. Sure, five minutes on the timer, and then "Please keep your agreement. It's time to put that book down and go brush your teeth." Knowing that there were no human demands waiting at home for me gave me more grace toward our boy.

There are a lot of poetic thoughts about quietude-- and I really could go on and on.  For a great many of us, though, this is how we get filled up spiritually--not with chatter and attention and praise, but in the space and emptiness. There is respite in having moments of nothingness, there is clarity and substance in what should be void of meaning. It is the sole purpose of silence, to me-- the space around it. Much like standing at Cascade Head, looking out over the Pacific and the coastline to the south, getting a sense of where we are in our world, not in relation to where one parked the car or where the beach cabin is, but in relation to our lives as a whole. Silence allows space for objectivity, which is a powerful perspective. Objectivity allows us to see beyond our own interests and feelings, it gives us a wonderful sense of pulling back and taking in the entire situation. It gives us the ability to appreciate what others might want or need. Objectivity frees me from having to deem according to our societal dualism as strict 'right or wrong'; instead, it encourages deeper thought and nuance and this helps me to better understand and live in my world.

My cup of tea is gone now. The sky isn't brightening any, but that's not unusual on a fall day here in Portland. I've had my quiet and now I feel ready to move to the next task, and the next, and the next. The swish of a broom, the clatter of silverware, the chugging of the washing machine, the raking of leaves... work is noisy. But that's okay. Balance is everything, right?

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