Without words

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Good morning. It is sunny today, with the sky a clear cerulean blue. My grandmother always said it was going to be a fine day if there was enough blue in the sky to make a sailor a pair of trousers. Today I could probably kit out the entire navy. If the makers of paint could capture this colour in all its transparency, they’d make a fortune. Not that they don’t already, given the price of artists colours.

There is a heavy frost this morning though and the cold has me by the throat, both literally and metaphorically. The dog has the door standing wide open, the heating has gone on strike again and my son’s prayers have been answered. I will not be singing today. My throat is as swollen as if I’d talked all through the night. I vaguely remember that scenario.

I am lucky at present. I see my son every day and the depth of the conversation we share can be astonishing for stone-cold sober and mid-morning. We can cover ground from the most ridiculous to the deepest philosophical debate, passing via music and neurology, pizza and sturgeon to the nature of God and the soul. But other than Nick the majority of my days are spent in silence, apart from a very dear friend on the phone from afar and my conversations with the dog.

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There are few things I enjoy more than settling down to long, varied and frequently random discussions over a bottle of good wine with a friend. Living in France was a perfect introduction to that, because there is always cheese. If there is cheese left, it is almost obligatory to open a second bottle to accompany it, and if there is bread left, one needs more cheese… it would be wasteful not to… and so it goes on, sometimes all night. Conversations can go very deep at these times.

We don’t talk enough. Or not about things that really matter. We chatter about the simple things, mundane problems, the latest news but we seldom seem to have time to sit and simply listen to each other these days. Or even to listen to the world around us. One of the downsides of electronic conversation is that it is often so short and factual. We cover the necessities and rarely allow heart to speak to heart, sharing the inner depths of who we are and what matters, really matters, to us as a person.

Listening, I think, is one of the greatest gifts we can give. To listen, with ears and heart and mind while someone shares themself with you is a beautiful thing. And you can hear as much in the silence between the words as you can in the words themselves.

Mind you, I have no objections to silence either. It is, after raising a family, a luxury. I have always loved silence and it was a rarity in a household full of growing children. It is an animated silence, my mind seldom quiet, pursuing trains of thought down convoluted alleyways, imagination always online and seeking ways of expression. There is a richness in this type of silent working that can be drowned in the normal noise of everyday life. One can see the value of the contemplative life. Though, as a friend has said on many occasions, I was not cut out to be a nun. I would be constantly doing penance…

There are also, though, moments where the internal dialogue stills into quiet. The dog is usually asleep at these times, the distant road noise hushed and the only sound in the village the song of birds.  At those times the surface mind is silent and something deeper still can speak in the heart. There are no words, just a knowing, yet it is communication. There is something within that reaches inwards and upwards, deeper and wider than the conscious chatter of mind, and it is answered by something deeper still that seems to be waiting with arms open wide. It comes out to meet us like a friend and lover that has been waiting for our presence and listens in the silence of those moments only to the murmuring of the soul.

34 thoughts on “Without words

  1. Beautiful scenery.
    I sometimes wonder if I was a nun in a past life; there are things about it that draw me, but I could not manage poverty, chastity and obedience all at the same time. 🙂 Often drawn to silence (outdoors makes it more special). But yes, long leisurely conversations are a true gift.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. My mom always says “a Dutchman’s britches”. I have no idea why a Dutchman, but there it is…

    I am an extreme introvert who likes to spend most of my time in silence, yet after a long deep conversation standing outside yesterday I remember how much even someone like me needs deep conversation and someone to listen and to listen to.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I had to laugh at the part that said, “I was not cut out to be a nun. I would be constantly doing penance…”

    You and your friend are not alone. Many of us are out there. How drab and dreary our lives would have been if we hadn’t been a bit flamboyant at times. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I was both saddend and laughed out loud at this:
    “There is a heavy frost this morning though and the cold has me by the throat, both literally and metaphorically. The dog has the door standing wide open, the heating has gone on strike again and my son’s prayers have been answered. I will not be singing today”.
    The sky so blue, your words so poingent and beautiful are a treasured gift that you continue to bless us with and make us pause to truly hear and listen beyond the words.
    Your words will echo in my heart always and I will open up another bottle in deep conversation as I break bread and eat cheese and think of you! 💖💖💖💖💖

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I escaped for fifteen minutes yesterday… away from the house and my carer duties. I was supposed to be dealing with a pile of prunings, but I sat in the sunshine and enjoyed the peace instead. It was wonderful…

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I was doing things in the garden in that sunshine – and the boys came out for an hour to do a bit of lawn-mowing. The four-legged boys, of course. If it wasn’t for them, I’d not talk to anyone save the supermarket check-out person most weeks. And my voice is getting croakier, even though I try to exercise it a little more each day. As for singing… that went years ago. But I’m trying to bring it back.
    We have hope of sun later in the week, accompanied by showers. April is coming!


  7. Your lovely phrase – “something deeper still that seems to be waiting with arms open wide” – is You; the You of dreamless sleep; the You that is Oneness; the You that is forever; the You that is Love.


  8. Dear Sue
    I read your writings to Mom when she is not too tired.
    Next time she asks “What does Sue say?” I’ll read her this one.
    Thank you for writing, Sue. Your light shines far and wide.

    Liked by 1 person

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