Enter Into Joy

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I weave a silence


I weave a silence onto my lips.
I weave a silence into my mind.
I weave a silence within my heart.
I close my ears to distractions.
I close my eyes to attractions.
I close my heart to temptations.

Calm me, O Lord, as you stilled the storm.
Still me, O Lord, keep me from harm.
Let all tumult within me cease.
Enfold me, Lord, in your peace.

Today, I've had a rare afternoon of uninterrupted quiet time in the studio. It reminds me that it isn't always necessary to travel great lengths to take a much needed retreat. The rich sounds of silence are available to us - if we just stop and give attention.

This past June, my friend Vicki Millican and I did pack our bags and trek across Texas to Lebh Shomea (Listening Heart in Hebrew), a silent retreat center near Sarita. It took most of a day to drive there from Dallas. But it was well worth it. It is the closest thing to Eden that I’ve ever experienced. I intended to spend the time there strategizing about 29 Pieces . . . but then I took the place’s name to heart . . . and listened. And what I heard were the inspiring voices of four artists – Mark Twain, Cy Twombly, Joan Miro and Georgia O’Keefe. Here is a journal entry from one of the days at Lebh Shomea:

June 17, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010 in Lebh Shomea. Two people live here as hermits - and they co-author books: Kelly Nemeck and Marie Theresa Coombs.

I don't know that I've done the best here - I just let things flow organically - a novel, short walks, eucharist at the chapel, reading about Mark Twain, Cy Twombly, Joan Miro, Georgia O'Keefe, then writing "Reminders" - on things that this hot, sticky, quiet time reminded me of. Of where my mind wandered when there was quiet. It wandered back to Columbus. Isn't that strange? Where I've just been. It wandered to afternoons reading in the heat, in the bedroom upstairs, and coming down to the air conditioning and to be with Mom, to green jello salads and Cool Whip. To awkward silence over meals . . . to cold cuts and American cheese, and meals at Noon and 6 P.M. on the dot. Just like here. It wandered back to fear of the dark, to flitting fantasies about monsters under the bed or right outside the window.

This rarefied place . . .  turkey vultures, deer with budding antlers, lizards roam as quiet and freely as I do. What a rude awakening they are in for if they wander out of these borderlines.

I'm rarely alone . . . really alone . . . for several days at a time. No pets, no phone calls + long conversations, no squabbles.

I discovered I'm a bit of a stranger to myself. It's humbling. More insignificant, more frightened, more anonymous than I admit.

Reminder #1 at Lebh Shomea
What it feels like to have a day uninterrupted by emails and phone calls

Reminder #2 at Lebh Shomea
What it feels like to be uneasy around wild nature

Reminder #3 at Lebh Shomea
What it’s like to have bright blue or green jello fruit salad with cool whip for dessert

Reminder #4 at Lebh Shomea
What it’s like to be so immersed in a novel that I didn’t want to do anything else. And not a spiritual book, to boot . . . but The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Reminder #5 at Lebh Shomea
The rich feeling of immersing myself in a book about another artist’s work: Mark Twain, Cy Twombly, Joan Miro.

Reminder #6 at Lebh Shomea
When you take a delicious nap in the afternoon, you can stay up till midnight

Reminder #7 at Lebh Shomea
Ice in water on a very hot day is the best thing in the world

Reminder #8 at Lebh Shomea
Like in Big Bend . . . something about a summer afternoon, the hum of an air conditioner, slow time with a book, and it puts me in the company of Mom. I see her sitting in the living room, watching the afternoon shows, and I miss her. Sometimes, I almost forget what it was like to be with her, and I miss her and Dad so much.

Reminder #9 at Lebh Shomea
Walking into old libraries gives me an upset stomach.

Reminder #10 at Lebh Shomea
I can be frightfully slow . . . happy to sit . . . read . . . look around . . . have a lemonade . . . listen to music . . .
 – Karen Blessen

* The Ortha Nan Gaidheal is a nineteenth century collection of Scottish spoken word literature. 


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