November 21, 2021

Companionable Silence

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”

— Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

Is there any more beautiful experience than sitting with someone in companionable silence? It’s a rare and wonderful thing in our noisy world today. But I treasure it. The ability to just BE and not have to do anything at all. Not having to say anything, discuss anything, prove anything. What a gift.

I’ve been thinking about silence a lot this week. I wrote about it last week in my post about communing with myself and with the natural world. I wrote about how, by using my morning walk as a moving meditation, it helps me find something sacred during that time I’m outside.

And with these thoughts came another thought I’ll share, with the potential of being controversial: if you are a person who goes outside to walk or run or just be out in the fresh air while wearing headphones or ear buds, leave them at home today. Just this once. Let the music of the earth sing to you. Let the birds and the breeze and the leaves tell you their story. There is something magical in the experience.

I know many people like to listen to music, or a podcast or an audio book when they are outside. There is nothing wrong with any of that. But I wonder sometimes if a steady diet of distraction insulates us from really experiencing the living world around us. I read the other day about the concept of the world as ensouled and enchanted, and how we view ourselves instead as separate from the earth. Ensouled? The world has a soul? The world is enchanted?

Why not?

It certainly seems enchanted when I’m out really early and I hear the first notes of morning birdsong. It also seems enchanted when I watch the sunlight dance across the surface of the water with diamond sparkles and I see the moon lighting up the night sky. I caught my breath the other night when I saw the constellation Orion, the three stars making up his belt like a sash, staking his claim in the Universe.

And so I have a challenge for you.

Today, if you can, go outside (sans headphones) with the intention of simply showing up fully and noticing what is around you. Really hearing the sounds. Really breathing deeply of that fresh, outside air. Just being in companionable silence with this world we’re living in — even if just for a few minutes. It may just be the first step toward us finding a sense of actual peace. The first step in healing, both ourselves and the world. The first step in actually enjoying the holiday this week.

So tell me how it goes — I want to hear. We’re all in this together.

With love and gratitude,


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