The river has taught me the art of silence...

Well, maybe not the art - but it has certainly deepened my appreciation for silence, and most of all, the river has taught me to listen deeply to the sounds of nature, the sounds that silence reveals - and to listen for the very sound of the Divine in my soul and in indeed, all of creation.

This is not an easy thing to do - for we are bombarded by noise. Since I live as a "semi-contemplative," I often feel assaulted when I have to go out and run the most simplest and basic of errands. There is not a store or restaurant it seems that doesn't pipe in something rather obnoxious or toxic into its environment, and into the ears of hurried souls who are already subject to an inordinate amount of stress and to a myriad of personal issues and afflictions.

I recently became acquainted with the music of Arvo Part, through the talented son of a cousin of mine.

Arvo Part's music is haunting - it speaks to the soul without adornment - the creative expression of a minimalist at heart - the music is both breathtakingly beautiful and undeniably spiritual at its core. It has truly captivated my heart. I wanted to share some of the quotes and notes from the album of "Silencio," because it so eloquently describes what it means to inhabit this place and spirit of silence, acknowledging the many gifts and graces it brings...

"Silentium! Silence! Sei still!
Speak not! Do not open your soul's intimate abode.
What you may feel, what you may dream -
In profundi let it steam.
Safeguard it in your spirit's mine
Let it ascend and then decline,
Like silent stars on heaven's dome.
Bathe in their light and watch them roam,
Admire them, splendid or bleak,
But in silence. Do not speak.

How can a heart be braced in words?
Another fathom what is yours?
And understand what you live by?
A thought expressed becomes a lie.
Don'd muddy springs, lucid and unique:
Drink from their depths but do not speak.

Learn to live within yourself. Explore a universe.
That's you. Behold between your soul's shores
All the mysterious thoughts. Know: noise
Rips the enigmatic lace, destroys
The magic chorus. Noon rays will make it weak.
Listen to its song. But do not speak."
- Fedor Tyutchev (1830) Translated by Elisabeth Konovalova

"One searches in the outer world as well as in other's reflections of oneself - with all its insecurities, joys, convictions, evaluations. The world observes these oscillations of our feelings with a proud indifference. Here and there a person hurries by, producing a sound that resembles one's own. But it's already gone, and one is again embraced by silence. Our pain and insomnia as part of the whole. Our dispair: a drop in an ocean. Death - the final bill, in which the challenge turns into a phantom. Ambitions, hopes, enchantment. All this finds its peace there in the world beyond.

Words irritate. Gestures mislead. Emotions dissolve. Only sounds speak a language that might be understood. If one opens the heart, would there be someone receptive enough? But who is listening? Who is able to feel it? Often I do ask myself, where does a heartbeat identical to mine exist? And the attempt of an answer is: out there, on the other end of my own sound."
- Gidon Kremer from Obertone

"Music must be given the chance to express itself. Words confine music. And then, music makes itself dependent on words. In my view, the very existence of music is jeopardized by today's society's obsession with communication."
- Arvo Part

"The odd sound. What a mercy to have that to turn to. Now and then. In dark and silence to close as if to light the eyes and hear a sound. Some object moving from its place to its last place. Some soft thing softly stirring soon to stir no more. To darkness visible to close the eyes and hear if only that. Some soft thing softly stirring soon to stir no more."
- Samuel Beckett, from Company

"One ancient hermit said to his disciple: 'Strive to enter the inner cell of your soul and there you will behold the heavenly cell. Both are one: you enter them by the same door. The staircase to Heaven is inside you: it exists in your heart.'

And it is true:
Our whole life is but an attempt to find this miraculous entrance.
All our deeds are but a timid knocking on this mysterious door.
All our hopes are to hear, one day, perhaps, a voice that would respond:
'Come in!'

For it is said: 'Knock and you will be let in.'"
- Vladimir Martynov


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