I like Sundays, and it’s not because I can have a lie in as those are every day possibilities now. If I’m awake relatively early and tune in to the radio between 6 and 7 am, I can listen to a variety of hymns and comments which can be quite thought provoking. The two-hour programme that follows still has a religious feel, but the music is normally relaxing and with studio guests and listeners’ contributions, it’s always a pleasant way to start my day.
Today, one of the subjects discussed was SILENCE.
When in New Zealand, one listener had taken a night cruise to South Island. The Captain pulled the boat into an inlet, cut all engines, and turned off all the lights for two minutes. Apparently the Silence was magical, spiritual, uplifting and wonderful. A later guest mentioned silent prayer, which I believe is a trait of the Quakers, and suggested that everyone should try it, at least once. She said that at such religious meetings, everyone took part by contributing their Silence.
Of course being quiet isn’t the same as Silence. Kids may have a Sponsored Silence for charity or to raise school funds, exhausted and exasperated mothers play a game with their children to see who can be the quietest for the longest and Libraries used to have notices for Silence, but what does Silence mean to the likes of you or I?
Some evenings, I am quite content to sit in our lounge with no radio, CD or film playing in the background. The room is not silent though. There is the tapping of keys as we work on our individual blogs from the comfort of our armchairs and if the central heating’s running, a clicking in the radiators. There may even be the gentle snoring of her ladyship curled up in her basket, or just lately doing a pretty good impression of a lumber roll behind either Hubby or myself.
Other times, we have been in the woods and apart from our footsteps have heard nothing, not even bird song. It’s like intruding into a private world, and with the recent storm damage, we wonder if trees make a sound when they fall (only I suppose if someone is there to hear them) . On another day the woods may be quiet, but in the distance you can hear the sounds of life as traffic, machinery, dogs barking, and rustling in the undergrowth as some creature scurries away to safety.
Our modern world is far from silent. During the day when traffic is passing, I am convinced that some vehicles are only propelled forward by the rhythm at maximum volume of the boom boxes within. To me, this is just an assault on our ear drums by the youth of today. They are more than likely to pay for it in later years by suffering from tinnitus, but most will not heed such warnings. Elsewhere in our busy lives we have a variety of noise from ring tones for our mobile phones, the bleeping of supermarket scanners and monitors, and dinging of microwaves, all thanks to just some of our improved technology and the advantages it brings.
Even at night, there is the buzz of the freezer as its motor kicks in periodically, the settling of roofing materials cooling down after the day, and there is even a miniscule hum from the digital clock radio on my bedside table, plus of course the human and animal elements of slumber beside me. Outside, there is the occasional hooting of owls in the fields behind us and a constant though not intrusive thrum of a generator half a mile or so down the road. It’s all sounds we get used to and thus to some extent ‘tune out’ for want of better terminology.
We have classic songs such as Silence is Golden and The Sound of Silence, both of which have been played on the radio this weekend though not in either of the radio programmes mentioned here. In the film world, we have the 1958 war movie Run Silent Run Deep starring Burt Lancaster and Clark Gable, and in 1972 Bruce Dern starred in a sci-fi pic entitled Silent Running. But it is the 1986 film Children of a Lesser God starring William Hurt and Marlee Matlin that gave me an outsider’s insight into what life would be like if Silence was absolute.
The deaf live in a world of Silence. Take the scene where ‘Sarah’ (Marlee Matlin’s character) is swimming in the college pool in the evening. There is no noise, no dialogue. No rippling sounds in or out of the water, and no incidental music. It is indeed Total Silence. It’s a wonderful film, and as the love story develops, there is the line by James Leeds (William Hurt)
Do you think there’s someplace where we can meet that’s not in silence and not in sound?
We all like peace and quiet at times. It gives us a chance to reflect, think, problem solve, pray, count our blessings etc without any outside influence to distract us. These periods are of our own choosing, not something we have to live with every day.
To me though, the most significant Silence period in today’s modern living is The Two Minute Silence of Remembrance.