Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Listening to Silence

Ernest Hemingway is quoted as having said, "I have learned a great deal from listening carefully."

Sitting now, late in the evening. The clock ticking, the computer chattering as it thinks, the click click of the keys, the fan whirring and stopping. What is there to learn?

Oddly, it seems, by paying attention to sound the underlying silence becomes more evident. And listening is at the heart of our practice of meditation. That's not just listening with the ears, it's listening with the eyes and the finger tips. Listening like the hen sitting on her eggs, listening with her whole being. One can choose to be as the hen on her eggs however more often than not we are busy pecking out a living, and that's just fine.

Thirty more tick-tocks of the clock and it will be midsummer day. The longest day of light and my late brothers birthday. It's really due to him that I continued to write.

We were not close and this very fact meant that he (our shared blood) inwardly called, from a distance. My first retreat at Throssel, a priory then, had him calling me to go and visit him and his family. It was clear that was the next most important thing to do. So, over the years since our childhood we visited, with long gaps in between. With little in common there was nothing of substance to talk about and yet we continued to see each other.

Blood relatives tie us together with memories and they can, and do, set us free with the silence found beneath the racket of separated lives. This was certainly true of my brother and I. It was the often painful song of Johns life which had me venture to sing my own song. A little wider, a little louder. Thanks brothers.