Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Finding silence within sound

My husband Bill is noise sensitive. Sounds of traffic, noise from factories, lawn equipment and machinery drive him batsy. I, on the other hand, having spent many years in a cloistered monastery on a busy urban street am not bothered by noise. Bill will ask me if I hear a particular humming emanating from the rocks on which our house is built. I don’t, not until he’s pointed it out.

Anthony de Mello, in Sadhana, A Way to God: Christian Exercises in Eastern Form, addresses the issue of noise sensitivity during meditation. His Contemplation Groups often complain about the sounds around them, he writes, which intrude on their quiet and distract them. Rather than protect them from sound, he deliberately chooses places above or near busy streets.

“If you learn to take all the sounds that surround you into your contemplation,” he writes,”you will discover that there is a deep silence in the heart of all sounds.”

Modern life is noisy. No place is really free of noise as even the airwaves hum with electromagnetic and seismic signals. If we are to meditate (or simply to live in peace with noise) we must learn to find the “silence in the heart of all sounds.”

De Mello claims that sounds distract us when we attempt to run away or fight them. Rather than trying to tune out such sounds, he advises us to listen to the sounds surrounding us, even the smallest; to attempt to discover the sound within sound, the variations in pitch and intensity. In this way we become aware, "not so much of the sounds around you, as of your act of hearing."

Alternating between the awareness of sound to the awareness of your hearing can lead to the awareness that sound is produced and sustained by God’s almighty power. “God is sounding all around you . . . Rest in this world of sounds . . . Rest in God.”

The photo above is of an open courtyard off a busy San Juan street

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Morning Earth

I am posting this lovely photo and poem by well known author John Caddy. John has been sending daily poems and photos for several years now and his site Morning Earth provides educators, authors, and earth lovers with ongoing inspiration.

Morning Earth Entry 4.3.2009

On the forest floor
ancient lives are waking,
snake-skinned liverwort
and froths of moss
gone green again in their
waltz with time,
hugging soil.
But this new season
an odd bit of lichen
has dropped in
from the mystery above
to offer a frisson
of winterkill white
and a splash of pink
to the palette of spring's floor

About Me

My photo
Beryl is the author of The Scent of God: A Memoir published by Counterpoint NY in 2006 and A View of the Lake published by Lake Superior Port Cities Inc. in 2001. She’s been living on Lake Superior for seventeen wonderful years, and spent 10 years writing two popular columns for the Cook County News Herald: Newcomer Notes and Putting Down Roots. Beryl is past president of the Schroeder Area Historical Society and a long-time chair of its Oral History and Marketing committees. She is a past board member of the Violence Prevention Center in Grand Marais and committee member for the Grand Marais Art Colony’s first ever annual North Shore Reader and Writers Festival. She’s been published in the Sun Magazine, Minnesota Monthly, Lake Superior Magazine, and The Trenton Times and in the anthologies, Surviving Ophelia published by Perseus Publications in 2001 and The New Writer's Handbook, Vol. 2, published by Scarletta Press in 2008 and was named Best of Minnesota Writers by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She is currently working on her third memoir: the sequel to The Scent of God.