We awoke to a February snow. Maybe five new inches decorated our winter landscape. The temperature promises to inch up in upcoming days into the 30’s and 40’s (0 to 7 C), but for now winter still sings her black and white songs.
When I first returned from Florida I felt kind of black and white and blue for a few days. There’s so often a feeling of traveling transition, of settling back into the quiet after days of busyness.
Then news of the school shooting down there pierced this heart to the core, and I felt raw and sad and despairing.
I’m sure many of you felt the same.
I’m having trouble even typing a paragraph about it a week later.
Sometimes we’re called to move outward to help try to repair a broken world. Sometimes I do, as well. But quite often I feel an opposite pull: to move in toward consciousness, toward the Universe.
I can’t explain this in words, but it feels like silence and consciousness can heal at the source. It feels like moving toward the center of things, toward the essence, and radiating from that.
Maybe some of you know what I mean.
So there have been many days of silence here. Or meditation. Or whatever words you want to use to describe this inward movement.
And, in between the stretches of silence, I visit friends, wash dishes, chat on the phone, help Barry with wiring a new electrical box for a woodshed light and ponder South Korean funerals. (My daughter-in-law’s father died recently; she and Chris traveled to Korea for the funeral. The funerals last three long days.)
When some people go quiet, others often worry. Perhaps they are feeling isolated, depressed, out-of-sorts. Apparently some folks turn away from life into the silence and feel bereft, apart, not anchored.
I have felt like that before, but mostly turning toward the silence for me is a joyful thing. Peace appears. Joy bubbles. The silence itself embraces and holds the world close, an act of beauty.
Part of me is a monk at heart, a cloistered nun, a being of wordless prayer.
But I don’t talk about this to almost anyone.
How can you talk about silence?
This morning, with our new snow, I decided to strap on the snowshoes for the first time this winter. To walk slowly through the landscape and feel the weight of heavy wet snow on branches, the way snow encompasses a dead oak leaf.
I am not pushing winter away yet, mostly because it’s still here. So many times we wish and wish and wish something else to appear.
But the *present* is our gift, isn’t it?
I remind myself of this when the busy mind wants something other than “what is”.
I didn’t snowshoe for long, mostly because the heavy wet snow makes for some hard trudging. One foot up, pant, one foot down, pant. The snowshoe dance rhythm, right?
News flash! Husband just returned from work. I need to finish this up and hop to my duties. Which involves sweeping and brushing off the cars and wind shields, and then moving cars after the plow clears the driveway.
We’re seeing some wildlife again at this cusp of winter. A partridge preened itself high in a poplar tree over the kitchen window the last couple of days. Finches and nuthatches and blue jays chirp around the feeder. Two squirrels harvest sunflower seeds. They scurry in long tunnels beneath the snow between the feeder and oak tree.
Last weekend, one of the squirrels became annoyed at its friend as it peeked its head out of the tunnel. The dominant squirrel used its little hands to throw snow at the mouth of the tunnel and completely buried the other fella!
The following photo shows the squirrel behaving a little better.
Wishing peace for you, and moments of embracing silence that heals a world-weary heart. Love, Kathy
When things get to be just too much, I often pull into myself for awhile. Then those things really get to me again and I get sad and angry and the words flow. Until I pull back again.
It’s interesting how we all do this a bit differently, yet it’s kind of the same. The dance of pulling in and moving out… Thanks for reading, Carol.
I am having some silence as well, here at the lake. Though this world is certainly not black and white. I am here alone, with the dog and for a few days in a row had no company, no tv, no words really, though I admit I am reading people’s blogs, so there are words there. I didn’t know about the shooting until late that day when husband called with the news. Too sad to even contemplate. I applaud the students for standing up for what they believe is right. I hope they don’t back down.
Dawn, it is to sad to even contemplate. I am proud of them, too, for standing up. Maybe something will finally be done. As for your silence–I hope it treats you well. Sometimes silence can be boring and anxiety-provoking, especially when we’re used to distraction. That’s a whole other topic. How we try to distract ourselves from silence. At least how I often do! Enjoy the rest of your time there…
Kathy, I have felt the oppressive weight of worry and pain in our world lately too and have taken the opportunity to retreat in silence and prayer. Thank you for sharing your walk with us. I LOVE your pictures and would love that view. The blanket of snow is so beautiful and in a way, comforting. ❤
Isn’t it odd how a blanket of snow can be so comforting, Brenda? Wonder why that’s so. Glad you resonate with the value of silence and prayer in your life. It’s can be so healing, can it not?
Kathy, I have always thought of freshly fallen snow like a blanket. It gently covers everything with a clean, white “blanket” and softens the hard edges of this world. And yes, silence and prayer can bring much healing. ❤
Anything that softens those hard edges is welcome in these days… Thank you, Brenda.
I’m seldom silent, but I love the example you set of your contemplative walk. I suppose I am more at peace when I too am walking in the woods with my dogs. This has been an unusual winter. Very little snow and what has fallen is gone soon. I’m good with that.
I am delighted to see the efforts to boycott companies that deal with the NRA; I feel that is the only way that gun control will happen. Those in power on the right don’t care about innocent lives lost but do care about their pocket books.
Sybil, I am thinking of you now walking in the woods (and on the beaches) with your sweet dogs. It can be so peaceful when we get out in nature. It’s as if the Silence in nature almost whispers to the Silence deep within ourselves… Blessings!
Grief has brought me into the silence this week. As a fellow educator, I know you understand my feeling. The nation mourns and struggles with anger but I think of the thousands of kids in my high school classroom over the years in a large suburban district. My school of 2,500 students, one of five large high schools in the Fredericksburg area of northern Virginia, experienced lockdowns at least once or twice each school year. Sometimes it was just an ROTC student that carelessly brought his weapon into the building, but more often it was a member from one of the myriad gangs that were an everyday part of our school population…boy-gangs, girl-gangs, Asian gangs, Hispanic gangs, white skinhead gangs, black gangs etc.
I have always believed that I could protect my kids, but the reality is that we really were sitting ducks. Teachers were given an envelope at the beginning of the year that included two clear plastic squares..one green and one red. If the shooter was in our classroom when we were locked down, teachers were to slide the red square under the door into the hallway. (Oh, excuse me while I just slip this under the door!) If our classroom was safe, we were to slide the green square into the hallway. What brain surgeon dreamed up this scheme?! But that was the plan. That was how we were to protect ourselves and our students.
Often, I have pondered if I would have the courage to shoot an intruder if faculty were armed. I always felt that, just as I would have protected my own children, I would also instinctively react to protect the kids in my room and grab any others that were in the hall and nearby bathroom when we went on lock down. I know without a shadow of doubt that I would but somehow, the events in Florida particularly grieve my heart. I am grateful to be home now in northern Michigan but somehow I feel like a traitor for not being there. My heart is sore, and I need the silence of the snow in the woods.
Karen, my heart swelled with sadness reading your thoughts. It feels like you are a deeply caring person who only wanted to protect and love your students. And part of you still wants to be there for them. The silence of the woods is a great healer. I think it can show us a hope (if that’s the right word) beyond our raw and saddened feelings. Although silence can not make the challenges go away, it can provide a larger context through which we can glimpse ways of healing and loving.
Thank you for taking the time to comment. By the way, I am not an educator, per se, although worked in a school district for many years. I was the financial person at our little rural school. But knew intimately the challenges of keeping our students safe. Or trying to, anyway. Blessings to you.
For “a being of wordless prayer” talking about silence is difficult if not impossible. Maybe that’s why we love little creatures in the snow so much ~ they offer wordless prayers and embrace the simplicity of what is. I love your pictures of the dead oak leaf and the squirrels. Silence is indeed a joyful thing. Wishing you peace, dear Kathy. (I’ve got that feeling of traveling transition at the moment, too.)
Barbara, I know you know exactly what I’m trying to share here. Our words are imperfect creatures attempting to paint an imperfect picture around the indescribable. I thought of you when photographing the little squirrels. I like the way you described nature as encompassing the wordless prayers and simplicity. So true and dear.
That looks like some heavy snow. We had a about 18 inches at the start of last week. The temps then warmed. Rains came. All of it melted, with the exception of some of the high piles plowed onto the corners of streets.
I love your photos. As much as snow makes life more difficult, somehow I still marvel at the magic. The silence of its descent. The purity of its untouched sheets. The fluffy texture as I wreck the smooth layers with my boots. Don’t get me wrong, I’m also glad it’s gone now, and that it’s going to reach 50 degrees here today. But, like you mentioned, why fight what is?
And I love your words about the marvel of snow’s magic, Lori. And your flowing with “what is”. I will admit, too, that I love it on a day like today when the snow melts and it’s 45 degrees. And the sun shines. Delightful!
Hi Kathy, I love the photos of your snowy landscape. I haven’t put on the snowshoes at all this winter. I like the cross country skis better. Last week, I needed some solitude, so I snapped on the skis and entered the forest. Sometimes, I crave connection, but at heart I’m a quiet, solitary soul. I never feel totally comfortable in a noisy crowd, but I feel a true sense of belonging in the quiet of Nature. I realized when I was out gliding through the trees that there was a big smile on my face. I felt a happiness that can’t be forced or bought.
Hi, Barb, so nice to see you! Most of my friends like cross country skis better, too. I am a ski-scaredy-cat and don’t like the speed (even on tiny hills!) So the snowshoes seem quieter, slower, more contemplative. But I get why you would like them. It sounds like you and I both have similar tendencies being drawn toward quietness, yet the importance of connection also arises. I am smiling at your realization of happiness the other day, oh dear gliding woman…
Kathy — I always enjoy how your photographs bring even more life to your thought-provoking posts.
I am glad you like the photos, Laurie. I always try to put them in both to break up the words and to provide more of that *life*!
Beautiful words as usual and profound. Very nice to read another person’s quiet and thoughtful time. Silence is often the best healer and might be the best way to reflect on events that are so disturbing and sad. I know that it is for me. I just don’t speak of things that are awful and If I do it is briefly mentioned.
I like all the snow images. They are quite lovely. My sympathy to your daughter in law.
Hello, Yvonne, how nice to see you! I am glad you enjoyed this blog post with its words and imagery. Thank you so much for extending your sympathy to my daughter-in-law. It’s been a challenging time for her and her family. Our son showed her mom these blog pictures while they were in South Korea. Don’t think she was too impressed by the snow!
I bet she wasn’t. Not that many folks are crazy about cold and snow or maybe they are, but you were born into and it is a part of you.
I hope your DIL’s mother is coping ok. It is another world without a long time spouse.
I hope she’s doing OK, too. It seems like it can be such a hard thing. Thank you.
I DO know what you mean. Sometimes silence is the best way to respond to too much noise outside. Sometimes silence is the best way to feel joy, and love, and peace. I sense you’re still in your quiet mode. I applaud you for the ability to do that. Not many can. In our last nor’easter here (Tuesday, and it was actually a blizzard this time – 18 inches of snow), I walked outside and just listened. To the silence of the wind and the snow. Even though the snow fell like crazy, the world was silent. Awesomely so, and I mean that in the true sense of the word. A W E some. May you live your days with awe, always. xoxo
So good to see you this day! We are only getting teeny tiny spitting squalling snowflakes today, and I hope your nor-easters are soon like past dreams. But may the AWE stay forever, popping up in your heart forevermore. P.S. See long email which just flew through at least six states and is now sitting in your inbox with love.
Ohhhh, can’t wait to find my waiting e-mail. AWEfully nice of you!!! xoxox
I am quite late reading your blog – this one resonated with me – not because I embrace the silence in a positive way like you do but because I’m one of those who goes into the silence and feels depressed and disconnected. Your words reminded me that there are more upbeat ways to approach the silence and benefit from it. Thanks.
Sherry, you’ve made me think. I probably once viewed silence more like you. It’s taken many years of meditation to realize and recognize the “alive” joy which dances in the silence. And silence peppered with negative thoughts can be so challenging, and definitely can lead to depression and disconnection for me, when that happens. So nice to see you here.