We also touched on those times that we've had a momentary sense of moving outside time, and the sense that in such moments we touch eternity and the infinite. Someone in the group said, "And THAT'S the most REAL thing." And, as much as we would like to, we don't get to stay there!
So here I write the story I shared in the group about a significant experience I had with silence years ago:
Stumbling Into Silence
In 1978, as a young wife and mother, I was on vacation with my husband, Eddie, in New Mexico. I had been feeling a deep restlessness I couldn't solve. It was our wedding anniversary, and we drove through the mountains to a remote area north of Santa Fe to celebrate over dinner. We arrived early, and decided to drive up the mountain, where we saw signs for a picnic area and a reservoir. We drove into the picnic area and parked the car.
I promptly got out, and walked up an incline. Standing at the top of a large mound, I looked down, down, to the reservoir, and at the same moment entered the deepest, most tangible silence I had ever known. Large vessels sailed on the water far below, and as I watched their wakes, I felt that they were large enough I should be able to hear them. But I couldn't. I was immersed in that deep silence.
Finally at peace, I returned to the car.
"I got what I came for," I said to my husband. "Now I understand what the restlessness has been about."
Simone Weil spoke of similar experiences with silence and the infinite: "At the same time, filling every part of this infinity of infinity, there is silence, a silence which is not the absence of sound but which is the object of a positive sensation, more positive than that of sound. Noises, if there are any, only reach me after crossing this silence." (This is from her spiritual autobiography.) -- Waiting for God, Simone Weil
Solitude provides an entry point for silence. . .the place where I am able to most sense God's presence and experience what I most know to be true. And always at the depths is beauty. That's the reason I crave solitude.
And here's a little story I wrote:
When my closest friend died, Solitude was the only one who didn’t call. But he sent word that he would like to see me, and that I could come and stay for a few days whenever I liked.
Several months passed. It seems I was avoiding the visit, finding ways to keep myself busy. Finally, feeling exhausted and spent, I packed a small bag. One chill winter evening, right at dusk, I found the courage to knock on his door.
Solitude didn’t say a word. He just took my hand and led me to a wide, overstuffed chair near the fireplace. As darkness settled over me, he lit a fire and asked, “Shall I put on some tea?”
We sat through the night, rarely speaking, just drinking tea and watching the flames as they leaped and curled around the logs. Solitude got up occasionally to stoke the fire, and I dozed.
At dawn, I gazed out the window at the lake and the woods. The sky was clearing, and a golden mist was shooting off the surface of the water.
Just as the sun rose, we heard a light tap at the door. The door swung open, and there stood Joy, with a smile on her lips, and a big covered basket balanced on one hip.
“Hope sent me,” she said.