Monday, January 12, 2015

speaking of silence

"One cannot speak of silence as one does of snow. One cannot say to anyone as one would of the snow: did you feel the silence of the night? Whoever noticed isn't saying."

- Clarice Lispector, from Soulstorm

Silence is a bit like the weather, though, isn't it? So many variations, kinds. Sometimes falling, heavy, like snow. Sometimes it's so grey. There are times when it fall so slowly you could catch it on your tongue, silence.

And then there is the silence of the suburbs while it's snowing. I've set myself the challenge of finding beauty in the suburbs, which is where I always am. On the weekend, I tried to shoot those things I usually deliberately edit out of my photos. The dirt on the road, the huge windrows of snow, cars, trucks.

Something I read this morning:

"Tintinnabulation is an area I sometimes wander into when I am searching for answers - in my life, my music, my work. In my dark hours, I have the certainty that everything outside this one thing has no meaning. The complex and many-faceted only confuses me and I must search for unity. What is it, this one thing, and how do I find my way to it? Traces of this perfect thing appear in many guises - and everything that is unimportant falls away. Tintinnabulation is like this. Here I am alone with silence. I have discovered that it is enough when a single note is beautifully played. This one note, or a silent beat, or a moment of silence, comforts me. I work with very few elements - with one voice, with two voices. I build with the most primitve materials - with the triad, with one specific tonality. The three notes of a triad are like bells. And that is why I called it tintinnabulation.'"

- Arvo Pärt


- on YouTube

It's interesting how sound often leads us into silence.

tintinnabulation |ˌtintəˌnabyəˈlāSHənnouna ringing or tinkling sound.ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: from Latin tintinnabulum tinkling bell (fromtintinnare, reduplication of tinnire to ring, tinkle)

"May the sound of the bell penetrate deep into the cosmos. Even in the darkest spots living beings are able to hear it clearly. So that all suffering in them cease. Understanding comes to their heart, and they transcend the path of sorrow and death."

"The universal dharma door is already open; the sound of the rising tide is already heard clearly. The miracle happens. A beautiful child appears in the heart of the lotus flower. One single drop of this compassionate water is enough to bring back the refreshing spring to our mountains and rivers."

"Listening to the bell I feel the afflictions in me dissolve. My mind is calm, my body relaxed. A smile is born on my lips. Following the sound of the bell, my breath brings me back to the safe island of mindfulness. In the garden of my heart, the flowers of peace bloom beautifully." 

- Thich Nhat Hanh.

After a vehicle roars by, the silence is deeply felt. It's not quite the same as the low ringing of a bell which might lead one into meditation or reverie but perhaps not entirely dissimilar.


  1. Dear Ms. Lemay,
    We have just finished another meal together. Me chewing away, you Asking.
    I had a dream about you the other night. I saw you in a gift shop. A shop selling souvenirs and housed in the trunk of a tree. I called your name . Over and over. Like we were old friends who had lost touch. Like we had actually met. Each time you hid behind a rack or cabinet or tea towel display. Finally I shouted " Shawna! Why are you ignoring me?". You peeked around the tea towels and simply stated " because I hate you. But not. But yes i do hate you. Don't you hate me?" I do....but not.
    I have no idea what this dream means.I analyze dreams as well as I write. But your writing makes one wish they could write. Or discuss art?poetry?being human?
    I would refer to the comment made... I hate poetry...and i would laugh and tell you about the time a step mother was loading me up with second hand books. One of these books was a compilation of Canadian poetry. Not that. I hate poetry. And then a long pause as i considered this rash statement. I don't understand poetry. I don't have the patience for poetry. There is too much depth and so few words. I quietly reconsidered and took the book. Maybe one day I will love poetry.
    I have many secret interests and fascinations. Kept secret because once someone said they hated the very thing i underwear without elastic... Without ever realizing ...crushed!!! So take heart. We only hate what we are afraid of. Or don't understand.Appreciation is in the faceting.
    I would want to discuss the possibility of making a Canadian prairie town exotic and mysterious. I would want to discuss being Canadian. I would ask about the phone call that made you shake, and discuss the times I shook.

    Anyways, i just wanted you to know you write beautifully. (Though a cliche i am sure) You inspire your reeder haha to pause and consider and really see. Thank you !

    1. What a fascinating response, dear must be a poet, too :)

      Thank you for such a creative comment - so much fun to read. And thanks for being here, too.

    2. I walked around in a meditative daze today. Really seeing the light and feeling the sun. Maybe you could place your books in the SELF help section.
      My Aunt gave me your book for xmas. She thinks i should write because i like to read. I try and explain that writing confuses me.I don't know what to write or how. i like ideas. I like your ideas.

  2. Lovely meditation. Have you read by any chance Billy Collin's 'Silence' poem? This post reminded me a little of it. I love the silence of snow. The Eskimos have 50 words for snow, I think there could be as many for silence :)


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