Tuesday, August 14, 2007

the silence to listen

"Feeling is deep and still

and the word that floats on the surface

Is as a tossing buoy

that betrays where the anchor is hidden"

Longfellow, from Evangeline

Two years ago, when my family and I arrived at the cottage we rented on Prince Edward Island, these two attached chairs beckoned. Tired from slogging through work and responsibilities and in need of some downtime, we unpacked the van, dumped out stuff in the cottage and set out to reunite with our friends who we meet up with every year. Instead of being social like I normally am, I poured myself a glass of wine, grabbed my black journal which I had packed at the last minute and sat down in the chair on the left with a tired thud.

I started to write. For the first time in many years, I began to let it flow. Though I had carried my journal around with me for a long time, I could never find the lost words. As much as I have always loved writing, my pen had been silent except for a few scratches of ideas, a few half-hearted attempts.......

"Just write.........don't edit.........let the words flow......" advice I had recently been given by a friend......... "You can edit it later......just get the words down....... "

And so I did. I took his timely advice.

It felt like a releasing rainfall bursting out of the clouds

It felt like a rush of water through a dam

It felt like a ball rolling down a hill picking up speed

The air around me and the tides below helped me find the silence within to hear the tumbling words.

It was like holding onto the hand of an old friend.

Every morning I awoke early. Quietly, I'd pull on my oversized sweatshirt overtop of my nightgown and tiptoe out of the cottage with a large travel mug of tea and my journal. Sometimes if the wind was brisk, I'd cart out a blanket to tuck my legs under. Then, I'd settle into the chair, with my tea to my right and my left hand free to capture the words. It was always a relief to find out that it wasn't a fluke........that the words were still tumbling out of the silence like a prayer.

I hadn't realized how thirsty I was. Thirsty for prayer, for spiritual connection, for expression to myself and to God, for the outlet to confess that I had lost myself. I had lost the connection to me. Though I didn't take the time to analyze why it was happening......I was too busy being the vessel for the words to stop to think about it.......I knew it was meaningful. It was later, after my writing continued on into the fall when I began to reflect on how it made me feel and what it offered to me spiritually.

I'm still reflecting on the meaning. No rush to figure it out fully. Just like my re-emergence of my faith, my writing and the topics which float to the surface "from an anchor below" has a transformative gameplan which isn't held by me. I'm holding onto the hand of an old friend whom I'm learning to trust again, whom I'm wanting to be acquainted with as an adult, not as an adolescent who wasn't mature enough to interpret, to challenge, or to be comfortable with the grey areas. Writing about one idea at a time is the pace needed for me to get it.

My journal writing two years ago seemed like it had nothing to do with religion and it had more to do with simply spewing out my observations of what life had offered up to that point. Coinciding with an important reunion in my life at Camp Kawabi, it seemed like a natural time to reflect and to assess. Interestingly, the last time I had written so much was when I had been actively involved with the church in my late teens and early twenties and when I had also been leading summer chapel services at Kawabi. And there I was, sitting in an Adirondack chair overlooking the Northumberland Strait tides finding my way back to those beliefs again. And I didn't even know it.

The hand of an old friend.......passed me a pen two years ago and with an open welcoming palm invited me to take a seat........ in a chair built for two.........It is there I rediscovered the silence to listen. I'll never let go again.


The Harbour of Ourselves said...

What was it Merton said, that, 'It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers. The more solitary I am the more affection I have for them…. Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say.'

...never let go....

Br David said...

Love the part - a transformative gameplan which isn't held by me.

The Gospel did not stop with Matt, Mark, Luke & John; I believe we are continuing the Gospel in writing about our relationship with God, ourselves and others.

Good news, thanks for sharing that.

Awareness said...

WOW! What a tremendous way to start my morning.....two thought provoking and wonderful comments to welcome me. thank you. :)

Paul...."for what they are"...I love that quote. It is then when we move past the labels and descripions, beyond the outside shell weathered by life to see our brothers.

I had never even heard of Thomas Merton before my writing re-surfaced, and when I stumbled upon some of his writings I felt like i had walked into a field of wildflowers. A true mystic he was. Thank God he found his pen and was given such a gift to capture his solitude thoughts so that we have them to ponder and to help us figure it all out.

Another? I wrote this in my journal over a year ago...."We stumble and fall constantly even when we are the most enlightened. But, when we are in true spiritual darkness, we do not even know that we have fallen."
I choose the stumbling kind of life.....and will try not to let go.

br. david....there was a lot of "what's happening here" thinking which led me to realize that it was a transformative journey I found myself on. One of the first steps came when the same friend who encouraged me to write again also challenged me to think about whether there are coincidences, or whether our destinies are more tied in with predetermined happenings. For some reason, I was open to considering this again.
Sharing out learning and our relationships through writing and story telling is not only helpful for ourselves in understanding the bigger picture, but I agree....it is a way of planting seeds for others to consider.

Yeah, I think I'm in it for the long haul....... I can't seem to shut up! :)

K said...

Writing is such a release for me as well. I'm thankful for that because I know so many more people who don't have an outlet for their emotions.

I could feel what you were feeling but finding the lost words. I feel that every tie I pick up a pen or sit at my computer.

Hugs :)

Anonymous Boxer said...

I love your writing and the pictures you post - You are my "spritual" blog to visit and I am never disapointed. Thanks so much for what you write and how you write it.

Ellen said...

I see you have our chairs set up.... oh, and what a wonderful view!

I rather like Paul's quote at the top... and find that solitude is the place I visit when I need to cleanse and think. Thank goodness for you (and us) that you brought a pen and paper along. You do have a wonderful way with words, and thankfully they are recorded.

I'll bring the thermos of hot tea next time.... you've already provided so much.

Awareness said...

Hi K...good to see you.....yes, writing is a wonderful outlet. sharing some it on a blog is also quite cathartic too don't you think? it's always nice to receive some feedback. But the quiet more confessional writing is free therapy. :)

Anon....I'm humbled.....thank you. More often than not, I question whether there is relevance to what I write about beyond my own head. I'm humbled to think you gather something from it too. It makes me want to take the risk to write more.

Ellen....it's an amazing view and will post two shots I took looking to the left and right of that very spot for you to see. Yes! we would have such a wonderful time sitting there talking it up like I believe we must have in our past lives or something. our conversations would be as natural as the tides I think.
Please bring the tea and when we're finished that, I'll provide the wine. AND let's have dinner catered by someone else, shall we? Who needs to do that work for a couple of days?

Tori said...

This is one of the most touching posts I have read...EVER.
You are gifted, amazing, and I am so blessed to have found your blog.

A chair, a pen, a journal, the ocean, and PEI...a magical combo.