In such a silence, if you have turned off the television and tempted your child away from his games with a good book, you can hear other things: the chatter and call of cardinals who have found the birdseed; the crack of a log in the fire; hot coffee being poured into a cup; the ticking of your last non-digital clock; the rhythmic breathing of tired child (or parent) who has dozed while reading; the soft thud of a book sliding to the floor.Isn't this absolutely beautiful?
You can hear life, forced into a slow-down; life less-deliberate; life lived as it was for centuries, before the busy inventiveness of the last five decades: life acquiescent to uncontrollable nature, and hunkered-down.
We have allowed silence to become a gift forgotten, one we only consent to unwrap when all of our alternative bows and strings have been unraveled, and our diversions have been utterly played out. Our inability to be silent puts our minds and our souls at a disadvantage, because it robs us of the ability to wonder, and if we are not wondering at the impossible perfection of the world in its creation—if we are not wondering at spinning atoms and Incarnations—then we are lost to humility, and to experiencing gratitude.
It transports me to the actual place where I can hear that fire crackling, the birds calling ...
In fact, it puts me strongly in mind of the exact surge of gratitude I felt when reading the first chapter or so of Bill Bryson's A Short History of Everything. I got it for Tom, but truth be told I also got it for me. (Shhhhh, don't tell ...)
Reading about the creation of the universe, looking at the little tiny square drawn on the page that was the actual size of the universe before that Big Bang, I was so in awe of God's power, ability to think so far beyond us, and His love in creating this astounding world and putting us in it.
All of that happened yesterday morning in the very short space of finishing a cup of coffee, hearing the turning of pages while Tom read the paper, and the growling play of the dog pack that now lives with us. With no other sounds generated by us.
Trust The Anchoress to remind us of the first thing it takes to help us get to the important things. Go read it all.