I always thought of texture as “the feel of a thing,” also as an art element. (You depict the texture of tree bark one way, pansy petals another, unspun wool yet another…)
But Kel Rolf at Soul Pantry has expanded my understanding. By definition texture also means means “the structure, essential part, substance…, or character” of a thing.
Now when I think of the “texture” of silence as its essential nature, it opens up a lot of thought about how that can vary, according to our perceptions, mindset, and circumstances–considerably. As the following incident illustrates:
Sunday evening. I’m sitting in my “quiet room.” I’ve just put a few thoughts on paper. Never mind their content, because my thinking has just shifted.
Suddenly I’m thinking of silence, because I’ve started wishing for more of it.
Husband has turned on the movie, Chariots of Fire, in the room beneath me. Though a “good” movie (if not entirely accurate historically), right now it’s “unwanted material” cluttering my mind.
So how shall I remedy this problem? Or should I just give up and go watch the movie?
Seems a fairly unimportant question. But it’s not—not in my present desire for greater spiritual refinement, and the helpful role that “silence” plays in attaining it..
Undecided, I descend to the kitchen to return a glass, and find its door closed and the dishwasher running. I know Husband has closed it to block this noise from interfering with his hearing the movie.
Entering and pulling the door closed behind me, I find an odd thing happening. The dishwasher’s sound is welcoming, because it drowns out the TV noises that distracted me, with their sudden changes of varied music, cheering crowds, etc.
Abruptly I scoot back upstairs and grab my journal, along with dictionary, to look up “silent.” The definition that resonates most as I sit now with it at the kitchen table is…
…free from sound or noise”
Now I find interesting my word choices in the paragraph above. I called the audible emanations from the dishwasher “sound” and those of the TV “noises.” “Noise” is unwanted, “sound” not necessarily so.
Indeed, places where I find welcoming “silence” are not devoid of sounds. Bird songs, cricket chirps, brook babblimgs may fill them, or, inside, some gentle music may soothe. In fact, on my way home from the “silent” retreat, I stopped at a favorite shopping spot and bought a set of hanging bamboo “chimes” to dangle in my garden come spring to add more ambiance of quiet and peace. And the last previous purchase I made there was an indoor fountain, for the sound of gently cascading water to enhance my indoor “silence.”
Right now what I find soothing is the drying phase of the dishwasher, breathing out its steam, and even the hum of refrigerator motor joining in. These two are the present guardians of my “silence” by their gentle override freeing me from noises that distract.
I smile. How very odd! Or is it?
Here there’s no speech, no uttered words—something usually quite good at distracting me, because I’m so much a “word person,” and my main learning mode’s auditory. Here instead is just steady hum and continuous “fo-o-o-o-osh…” and almost hidden amid that mix the muted ticking of a clock.
So I am sweetly glad I have chosen this place of odd “silence,” because I’m finding the thoughts of my mind and the leanings of my heart drawn into holy hush.
That movie beyond the door somewhere (beyond my muffled hearing) is commendable in many ways, I know from having seen it often, but what’s happening here, around and in me is better—a “strangely warmed” state of heart, as by a very gentle “refining fire.” I even seem to sense the presence of God Himself.
So for a moment I just sit silent, unmoving, soaking up that sense of God’s presence, and thanking Him for it, without any spoken words, but with a soul full up with gratitude.
What “texture” of “silence” do you like?
What sounds enhance “silence” for you?