As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been contemplating the meaning of silence. That post was mostly my thoughts about the act (or non act) of ceasing to speak up against violence and harm, the refusal to participate in bringing to light the darkness that invades our freedom, whether we are a large or small group, and it was my statement on defending everyone’s rights. We are responsible for each other’s welfare whether we like that idea or not because we all live on this planet together. (This week, I’ve heard about two people dying via my circle of friends and three people – close friends – who are faced with devastating financial loss. This post is for them as will be the next one.)
There is another meaning to silence that is just as important to me, as most people know. That is the silence of grief, the quietness of a particular space that seems to appear when our sense of loss is so severe that we cannot seem to cope with it, and often simply cannot even seem to breathe. I know several people who are there right now, living in that space, looking for a way to hide from what has been too much pain. And I don’t think this is a terrible place to be. I think it is not a good place to stay, but certainly it is a place we go to when we are faced with terrible loss. All the families and survivors of world tragedies go here, whether briefly or for long periods of time. It is inevitable in the human experience.
In that place of silence, where we initially feel that nothing can live, where we are abandoned by any belief system we’ve had – even if only temporarily – and where we want to stay, to cling to the loved one we’ve lost in death, the traumatic event that occurred, the job we’ve lost or been denied, our relationship breaking up, saying goodbye to our ideals and dreams – there are so many things we lose in a lifetime that it is impossible to list them. So many of them are such hard hits that we are stunned. Subdued. But there is also the potential for joy if we accept this inevitability and move forward, giving it what it deserves – our attention. If we refuse to see that this is part of life, then we miss opportunities for the reminder of love and the awareness that we can move on.
So, if we are destined to visit that place of silence, where we believe nothing grows and where no love can be, where we seem to have lost good fortune, let me share the following with you since this is something that has changed my life, first with the worse possible heartache, and second with the knowledge that I had choices and that in those choices I could transmute the experience and become a deeper and more caring soul. I did this, of course, with the support and love of others but I’m the one who went into the silence.
A poem of mine from when my husband died. As in all things, there really is hope in the end as you will see in last part of this. We forget that what is now causing us pain was a point of love before. That is what we mourn in silence, in that abyss. What we sit with in the dark silence is the awareness that we have lost what we love, but once we are back into the light we will see that the very thing we lost was such a gift that to have had it at all was a miracle, an act of Grace and Grace is where we need to intend to be for more of that goodness to shine on us. This is a personal piece for me and perhaps not your experience but it is the experience of many and lately, with the world seeming to be in such turmoil, there are far too many people living in the void of silence.
In all silence, in all desperation, grief and pain, there really is hope although while you are living in the silence you don’t believe that for one moment. There is the opportunity to make new music to listen to, a new life to write about, and a new list of experiences. Tabula Rasa. Silence is a clean slate. But you will not see that if you don’t embrace the inevitable because truth is the only way to live.
THE WRETCHED HOURS
The wretched hours before dawn
The hours I’ve been warned of
As if warning heals anything
With envelopes of empty sorrows
People pass through
I can’t bear another voice speaking
I wait for signs yet nothing comes
No wisps of hair moving at my neck
No fiery bursts of your heat in my belly
Heat that always curled my toes
Whenever we clung together
You purring like a big cat
Me feeling the rising of Kundalini
You growling low in your loins
Travelers on some other planetary realm
Heat that called me across rooms of others
Glances and thoughts that traveled
Light speed rattling me in my place
Peeking through this curtain of grief
Engravings in my heart chambers
The code of you
The timbre of your voice
Your scent before a shower
Reading together rainy nights
That edge of your eyelids where
Hairs pushed out like lustrous trees
Soft tiny reluctant soldiers
I watched them grow
Listened as they announced themselves
So long we stayed in bed and loved
I wait for golden molecules still
Announcing in this dark space
That your meteor trail is visible
The night sky illuminated
Gold dust and scattered stars
Waving your grand arrival
I would welcome any sign
Regardless of size or burden
Without question I would bow
Kneel to any master
Inhale you one more time
Fuse with your essence
I am free-falling un-tethered
Ninja stars stuck in my throat
My skin a coat of nails
I have never hurt this much
And I would do it again
Just to see the universe in your eyes
© Jacqualine-marie baxman 2015
So, silence in many cases is the same as solitude. Part of what I see happen to many people who have had hectic lives, never living alone or experiencing loss alone, is that they can be afraid of solitude. But solitude, as is true of silence, can be a place of beginnings, a place where one can rehearse a new way of being, try out the new thoughts and ideas and perfect them. Often, all one needs to do is breathe, rest and renew. One needs both silence and solitude.
My husband’s death was a difficult time. All deaths are a difficult time. People who know me well understood that and were incredibly loving but no one could take away the shock of his sudden death and the ending of our brief marriage. I refer to this experience more often than one would think but that Is because the lessons I learned from it have giving me the ability to grow in ways I could not have imagined. I am grateful to now understand and be less afraid of what can seem to be unending silence and what has often been lengthy bouts of solitude.
I am a person who believes in healing but not denial of anything and I think that every single experience we have holds that possibility for us, even in what we think is our darkest time.
I am not alone. We are not alone. The silence is only a place where we can heal, once we let go.
Better minds than me….
“In solitude the mind gains strength and learns to lean upon itself.” – Laurence Sterne
“The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has een done in turmoil.” – Thomas A. Edison
“To make the right choices in life, you have to get n touch with your soul. To do this, you need to experience solitude, which most people are afraid of, because in the silence you hear the truth and find the solutions.” – Deepak Chopra
“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.” – C.S. Lewis
Next post, I want to share thoughts of rising out of the silence of our own trauma and build a new life. If not a new life, then at least a new smile.