The Wonderful Sound

We can learn a lot from other traditions.  I am currently reading Silence by Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh.  I’m only a little bit into it at this point but early on he writes about one specific Buddhist teacher who had “the capacity to listen to all kinds of sound” and he could “utter five different kinds of sound that can heal the world.”  The first of those five sounds was called the Wonderful Sound which was described as the “wonders of life that are calling you..  The sounds of the birds, the rain, and so on.

Right now, I feel that God is working on me about the space between speaking and listening and working on cultivating a deeper sense of silence and stillness.  I read those lines above  a few mornings ago and they were still with me as I came to a little still-water pond.  Later in the summer, this pond will be covered by blooming lily pads but for now it was just still water on a cool morning.  As I approached, I was hearing the croaking of frogs and a few splashes of fish surfacing.  I heard the breeze blowing through the early summer leaves.  There was the gentle sound of my footsteps on the dewy ground and Scout trying to chomp as some of the long grasses alongside the path.  When I stopped at the edge, I could almost imagine (or maybe it wasn’t imagined) hearing my own heartbeat.  

It was a magnificent period of stillness and quiet.  It was a bit of that “wonderful silence.”  Wendell Berry wrote a poem called Sabbaths that speaks to this.  

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle

Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.

– Sabbaths by Wendell Berry

Berry’s words and these sounds…these are the wonderful sounds.


Categories: SilenceTags: , , , , , , , ,

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