Tag Archives: noise

Pure words and healing.

Current events had got me musing about words, silence, speech, and idle talk, even before my dear friend Myriah came to visit. She and I grant each other the exercise of free speech, even civil discourse, but I found that more than those are required by the law of  love. I hope to write further on these topics soon, though I feel woefully inadequate. Meanwhile…

After Myriah had gone home, she wrote to thank me, and to apologize for what she thought was her own “noise” as she “tried to make sense of everything.” She said, “I came home and planned to curl up and read the Bible.” But family demands prevented her. I realized that I had robbed her of what should have been a respite from confusion, talking as I had as though raging and clanging could be truly rational. Probably we should have spent some part of our two-day visit reading the Gospel together. (The garden did rescue us several times.)

These were my thoughts this Saturday morning, as I prepared to attend Divine Liturgy for the Leavetaking of Pentecost. I was present to receive Communion, but I had read the Gospel for the day at home. It washed over me as a healing balm, not because its subject matter or meaning are any more pertinent than they have ever been, but because I know the Speaker to be Truth and Love incarnate, and His speech is in stark contrast to the loudest human sounds that accost our ears and eyes. I remembered this verse:

The words of the LORD are pure words,
like silver refined in an earthen furnace,
purified seven times.
-Psalm 12:6

The Psalmist does not mean that God has to make seven rough drafts before He speaks, but that even our most refined and precious earthly things are only “something like” the Logos. These words of Christ from what is called “The Sermon on the Mount” were the Gospel reading for the day:

Give to the one who asks you, and do not reject the one who wants to borrow from you. 

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they?

So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The wave is breaking in a deep sea.

The breaking of a wave cannot explain the whole sea.
-Vladimir Nabokov

On Sunday I taught my first Zoom church school class, on St. Thomas. That was after tuning in, and trying to tune my spirit, to the streamed Divine Liturgy in the morning. In the later afternoon about twenty of us women met on Zoom to chat for an hour and to chose the next book for those of us who read together. Before sundown, I picked peas.

All day my mind was trying to pull me away from that present moment’s demands, but not totally — because it seemed to be doing that which is its natural skill, to weave the latest input from that very moment into the grid of experience and memory. I do not at all like the idea of my mind being like a computer, but the concept of fragmented files occurs to me…

Keeping the contents in a cohesive, organized fashion is a challenging project at my age, when the “files” have mushroomed, and my “processor” is trying to save a hundred bits of data every day to the most logical place. I have an astounding human mind, which sees way more connections between all those thoughts and images and stories than a simple machine could ever do. It is constantly clumping and re-clumping and arranging things, all the while thinking in sentences about its strategies.

This afternoon my godmother came through the gate to my garden, and we visited across the patio for an hour. I shared a smidgen of the last few days, and how it seemed that about five blog posts were churning in a mass in my head, trying to sort themselves out.

Since she went home, I’ve been halfheartedly applying myself to the task, but there is so much I want to write. It seems hard now, during this world pandemic, to sift through all the noise, or turn one’s back on it, in order to hear communications from reliable and helpful sources. And the Source.

In my attempts today, I came upon the idea of making use of my large store of quotes, many of which are thought provoking on many levels and might come to my aid in keeping at my blog and my writing. Even if some days I can’t write one good and pertinent sentence, I might post a quote that helps at least me, and you can make of it what you will.

It may be that my own mind is like an ocean that is too turbulent for me to see anything clearly in the water, but that’s not why I chose the quote above. It brought to mind all the many statistics and news stories, sermons and anecdotes and directives flowing all around us, by which some people I know are trying to figure out, not just how to behave today, but what is The Meaning of it all.

Hurry up and wait.

I woke this morning with a kink in my neck, and it never really went away, in spiIMG_0564 orange flowerte of many treatments including a thorough and deep massage by my friend who is staying here. When you are in pain, the hours pass slowly. I was lying on my bed a lot or taking walks, and thinking. I know I shouldn’t be typing at a computer, but — I am. While I was resting I read a line about Virginia Woolf, that she wrote in her diary every night, because she didn’t feel that anything had really happened unless she wrote it down.

In the morning I did my usual route on the bike path, following the advice of my chiropractor long ago who said that when you are walking “every step is like a spinal adjustment,” and as therapeutic. And I thought more about Metropolitan Anthony’s words I quoted recently about how to have an intense life.

I took pictures with my cell phone, even though the sun was a little too bright. I walked up the next street over, behind our house, the street where the people live who sing Chinese karaoke for the neighborhood, and who ran their leaf blower at 7:00 a.m. last Saturday. I wanted to write down their house number in case there is a next time with the leaf blower.IMG_0366 trees from CC

And I took this picture of the tree line. That Dr. Suess Tree is the redwood that dropped needles in our pool when we had a pool. My pine tree is the next one to its right. The other trees are in other yards in the neighborhood. I’m glad I don’t live in a new development where all the trees are young and short.

But living in a neighborhood of any sort requires patience. I have had yappy dogs next door for years, and I didn’t get too bothered by them until Mr. Glad died, and then I became irritable. My priest confessor warned me that this would happen, but when I lost my patience with the dogs who yipped and yapped nonstop every time I went into my yard, I didn’t repent. I started thinking about how some people have poisoned dogs, and I understood.

Then when I was standing in church on the Feast of the Transfiguration, the realization came to me that my attitude toward the dogs was the real problem. St. Herman or St. Seraphim would have made friends with the dogs, even through the fence, while I had not even thought of praying for them, who were after all only doing what is natural for dogs. My own angry thoughts were making a racket in my soul that was much nIMG_0553 berriesoisier than any dumb creature’s barking.

For a week I did pray for them, and for their owner; I knew she didn’t know what to do about their incessant outcry either. Then for three days while great tumult was happening in my yard, the poor pups probably didn’t know what to think, and if they were barking no one would have been able to hear it. After that, they were gone. Yes, their owner and they have moved to another town.

Having patience can be an intense activity. I think there must be a connection to the scripture, “Strive to enter into that rest.” When Met. Anthony tells us to “make haste,” I trust this is what he is talking about. I’m not too sure that his exhortation is for me right now, because any kind of hurrying or striving sounds like what I am trying to get away from.

He has said many other things about time and managing it to God’s glory, and I will be musing over more of his words here soon. For this evening, when I walked again at dusk, I was more restful about accepting the intensity, the struggle that has been given me. I don’t see any way to avoid it, if I wanted to.

IMG_0364 s.f. a.m.

I also have to accept the necessity of waiting. As many people have pointed out, there are lessons and pictures of my wider life, in this suburban back yard and town. On my evening walk the light was just right for photography, so most of these pictures were taken then.

Only yesterday I was complaining about my inferior tall sunflowers, but today my shorter variety is blooming, and looking cute. I just had to wait a little longer for it.

Everyone lies naked on a bed of nettles.

I ran across this article, part of a series on education by Anthony Esolen. In the course of describing how the modern world wars against our children’s souls in ways our ancestors didn’t experience, he touches on the topics of play, and why we don’t want to be stimulated, and silence.

I think of the Lord speaking to us, in His silence that communicates so much: “Be still, and know that I am God.” And that is how I know that these issues are crucial. Some excerpts:

It is noise, rather, that is the absence, both of the significant word and of the fullness of being that silence allows us to hear.

…how petty and dreary a thing it is to be stimulated. The stimulus is the prick or spur you dig into the side of an animal. Imagine the horse, slow moving creature when he is content, with his large sad eyes. If we are to make use of him, we must apply the spur.

It is essentially a pornographic world, where everyone lies naked on a bed of nettles, and every new thing is dead before it is born.

Silence is so great a blessing to us because we cannot use it. All things truly creative, which partake of the spirit of play, send their roots deep down into silence.

Read the whole article, Life Under Compulsion: Noise.