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Silence Need Not Be Our Enemy

March 23, 2013

A Boy Blowing on an Ember to Light a Candle (Soplón) by El Grecko (1541-1614)

A Boy Blowing on an Ember to Light a Candle (Soplón) by El Grecko (1541-1614)

“I miss Marvin,” I sighed.

“Yeah, me too,”…and the silence that had begun ten miles before gathered steam.

I turned and looked out of the window, withdrawing from the shared memory and the yearning for common ground. I let the  little ball of light left behind by the memory of a man and a moment fill in the dark spaces and comfort me…for a moment.  Too soon it sputtered and faded, and a knot of sadness took its place, cuddled up next to the gaping wound in the center of me called Loss.

Silence between two people is a tricky thing; the silence beneath words spoken even trickier. Too often we fill the space with assigned meaning that emerges from our own history, a history that may have nothing to do with the other, or the moment. We may take a hurt experienced long ago, one that no longer has a face or a name, and carry it with us through time.  Along the way it changes shape, it morphs and attaches to another, where it really has no connection. From there it gathers speed, dimension and color and morphs again, each time becoming a little less pure, a little less relevant to the present or the person we are trying to relate. We may even reach a place where the present is so filled with the past that we are no longer living in the here and now. The silence that once was us no longer is. Something else has taken its place.

In the silent place within us we fabricate meaning, construct futures, and make decisions that shape our lives. We think we “know” the other person and more importantly we think we “know” ourselves. We even might believe they “know” us. I have had a sense of “knowing” about another, a place of connection that seemed to need no words, but when we base everything on this “knowing” we run the risk of waking up one day to discover we have been mistaken.

It takes a lifetime for some of us to learn to be careful with, and protective of, the precious silence within us; to understand that it belongs only to us, and is, in fact, the essence of who we are. When we give this space over to someone or something else, or fill it up with thoughts of another, narratives about our life, obsessions, addictions, problems imagined or unimagined, or even a knotty little ball of loss and sadness, we allow our life force to be smothered, our lives destroyed. Our spirit, our souls, our days are turned over to half-truths and lies.

Regardless of how much we’ve managed to pack on top and around our silence, an ember always remains. An archeological dig may create enough space around the ember to allow air to rush in and bring it to life. Or, we may manage to locate the ember and chose to blow on it, and fan it, at every opportunity. We need do no more, for the flame has a life force of its own. It is more powerful than those things we have placed on top of it. Once ignited it will grow stronger and burn up the chaos that has smothered it for so long and the rich hot flames of truth and love will arise…flames of the truth and love that live within us always and can never be put out… and these flames will burn away the heavy, dark debris in its path, they will bring light and love into the dark and painful places and we will come to know and love and respect the place of silence within us.

Silence need not be our enemy.

Dorothy Sander ©2013

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