Searching for Silence

Often people tend to assume that, since I grew up in Greece, summer must be my favorite season. It is true that warmer weather is easier on my body and feels more natural. Yet, summer is not my favorite season. I find extreme heat and humidity unbearable.

The New England winters are no picnic either. I don’t enjoy being cold, and bundling up, in layers upon layers of heavy clothing, is something I had to get used to.

Spring and Fall are my favorite seasons. In the Spring, I love watching everything come alive. The gardener in me is filled with anticipation and excitement. As for Fall … who can resist the colorful show the trees put on in New England?

There is something though about the change of seasons that I find soothing. Through the years, I have become well aware of how my inner rhythm is in tune with seasonal changes.

Winter draws me inwards, and its stillness nourishes the introvert in me. Days are short, nights are long, social activities slow down, and I am called to my silent “den.” During this period of quietude, I can rest, reflect, heal, and dream of possibilities.

In silence we discover ourselves, our actual presence to the life in us and around us.
When we are present, deeply attentive, we cannot be busy controlling. Instead we become beholders — giving ourselves up to the mystery of things.
We become more willing to let things be.
And, as a consequence we can also let ourselves be.
Through silence our days are illumined — like rooms filled with light — so we may inhabit our lives.

Silence is our deepest nature,
our home, our common ground,
our peace.
Silence reveals.
Silence heals.


from SHARING SILENCE
by Gunilla Norris

Back in December, I participated in a class on  Writing Into and Through the Winter Season. I loved being with this wonderful like-minded group of people. It was during that class that I was able to express how unsettled I’ve been feeling this winter.

There is an ambiguity hovering like thick fog … a stubborn resistance to wintering all around me. It’s as if the world hangs in the balance, unsure about its identity and sense of purpose, hell-bent on noise, conflict, and uncertainty.

Temperatures can’t find their rhythm, the air feels warmer than usual, the grass is still green, and the daffodils are peeking through a ground that is not yet frozen. My garden is dormant, the trees are bare, and yet there are mornings when I can hear the birds singing.  It’s February … In New England!

Regardless of how we feel about winter, our bodies respond to the rhythm of the seasons. When the seasons are off balance, we feel it.

We are almost at the mid-point of winter. I keep listening for the familiar silence of the season but can’t hear it. As a result, I haven’t been able to settle into the winter rhythm and rituals.

The other night though, I woke up before dawn and went downstairs to the kitchen for a glass of water. It must have been around 3:00 am. I looked outside the kitchen window, and there it was, a dark, dark sky illuminated by myriad stars. I stayed there, looking up, still and quiet, and then I sensed it … the silence I’d been searching for.

It was a special moment and I am grateful to have been present for it.

As you read about my personal experience this winter, what came to mind for you?

How have you been feeling? Is there anything that makes you feel unsettled?

Scroll down to the comments and share your experience with us.

5 Comments

  • Linda Samuels

    You so beautifully articulated something I’ve been feeling but hadn’t completely identified. Like you, I LOVE the change of seasons. Each one presents its special gifts. And winter, in its stark, dormant season offers its gift of quiet and silence. Especially when the ground is covered in snow, it’s as if the whole landscape is being tucked in. Yet this winter, we’ve had NO snow, at least none that stuck. And the temps have been erratic. 60 degrees one day and 25 the next. It’s so odd.

    Yesterday I noticed the narcisis and crocus leaves pushing through the earth. It’s too soon. It’s not time for spring. We haven’t had a full winter yet. And like the season not quite acting like itself, I too, feel off.

    Always the hopeful one, I think I need to reframe this in some way. After all, while the seasons were always something I expected and counted on in the northeast, perhaps there is a big shift which I also need to adjust to. It might not be a bad thing. It’s just a DIFFERENT thing.

    Even though the temps have been odd and there has been no snow, I had to change our quilt to the winter velvet one. I love the heavy weight. So when I crawl into bed at night, it feels like winter in there. I can dream about having at least one good snow day. And if it doesn’t happen, at least I can remember times when it did and channel that special silence.

    • Yota Schneider

      Linda, I love how you are always ready to reframe your thinking and channel what you need in the moment. I suspect we will all have to learn how to adjust. Of course, there is also a bigger picture with this kind of change. Our ecosystem is experiencing the jolt as well. I wonder how this will manifest as we move forward. But, for the moment, we can only do what we can, and we need to find the silence and quietude we crave. I love thinking of you dreaming under your favorite winter velvet blanket.

  • Kathleen

    Yota, thanks for such a beautiful post. I love your image of this year’s winter as “ambiguity hovering like thick fog.” The typical New England winter is harsh, sometimes extreme, and you’re right that having to deal with it resets our bodies and minds. As I get older I admit that I don’t appreciate the intensity of the elements as much as I once did. Definitely something to contemplate–how to find new rhythms when everything around us seems “unsure of its identity and sense of purpose.” And reading your post made me think about the difference in the quality of silence depending on the season–being out under the stars in the biting cold of winter or in the soft warmth of a summer’s night.

    • Yota Schneider

      Kathleen, thank you for stopping by and sharing your experience with winter and silence!
      I love that you reminded us about the difference in the quality of silence in winter vs the summer nights. I also love that you introduced the idea of finding new rhythms and rituals amid uncertainty and ambiguity. This year, we were caught unprepared but, going forward, we may not be able to depend on what we have taken for granted. I wonder how spring and summer are going to feel this year since mama nature too did not get the respite she needed.

  • Claudia Larsson

    This post resonated quite deeply. As an Italian girl I’m with you, most think I’m a summer lover. Especially the long Tuscan ones! But I concur, spring and fall are my favs. This winter I have had rare and few moments of that deep delicious silence. I’ve been waiting to no avail. These are unique times we are in, as humans and for our planet. May peace prevail.

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