...”Perhaps it is a real, separate, actual thing, an ontological category of its own: not a lack of language, but other than, different from language; not an absence of sound but the presence of something which is not sound.“…….Susan Maitland
After a long hiatus, a number of things brought me back to knitting, but the one thing I find most intriguing this go round, is the silence it creates in my mind. It quiets my mental chattering, so much so, that an image of a knitted garment or skein of yarn is personally equivalent to a “resonance of silence speaking its own language”. I spent most of my youth running away from silence, turning on the radio or tv at the least threat of it, creating all kinds of busyness so as to avoid even a flash of a mental brush with it, but now? I relish silence more than ever.
What is it about middle age and silence? According to the author, many women seek it out fervently during their middle years. I often wonder if it is just a coincidence that sleep becomes lighter and more fleeting at this time. Is it a mere coincidence that we find ourselves awake at the most silent hours of the night? The so-called sacred hours when the spiritual seeker is more likely to be “spoken to”. In the meantime while we seek out remedies to induce a full night’s sleep, Rumi says “the morning breeze has something to say to you, don’t go back to sleep”.
I’ve been thinking a lot about silence these days and the meaning of it has taken on a new depth since I started reading “The Book of Silence” by Sara Maitland. I was drawn to this book, not only by the title, but by the age of the writer-the magical middle years when women sometimes re-invent their lives. At midlife the author decided she wanted to live her life with “silence in the center of it” in the remote high moorlands of Britain. There are 8 chapters which expand on different aspects of silence interspersed with historical accounts of sailors, hermits, spiritual seekers and her own unique experience of living a life of solitude. It is an interesting eye-opening commentary.
“I have set my soul in silence and in peace,
as the weaned child on its mother’s breast
so even is my soul”