The actually physiology of your ears might help you pray in silence. I’m intensifying my contemplative prayer practice during Lent and thinking about how to get above, below or behind the chatter of my churning brain. It has to do with hearing the silence for me. It has to do with tuning in to the sound of quiet, listening to my inhale, listening to my exhale, and letting everything I’ve heard lead me to a state of mind and heart in which I know God is very near. I’m not just trying not to think or speak, I’m trying to listen to things I don’t always hear. I need a daily reminder that I can hear more than I hear and see more than I see. I need to make regular contact with the infinite love that propels my life. The meditation can start with what I’m actually hearing. My experience in contemplative prayer is an occasional sudden woosh of quiet in which the Fullness fills me. Only onomatopoeia serves to describe the sudden sound of silence that precedes my most conscious presence to the Presence. If I remember similar sounds of sudden silence it helps me skip through the initial stage of settling I must pass through every time I sit. Here is a poem to honor those sounds and maybe push my readers through whatever stops them from hearing and seeing more than they yet know they can.
The Sudden Silences
The moment when the starlings start to fly
A sudden hush fills ears to empty brims,
As trees spill noisy swarms into the sky,
Now silenced by their million-feathered wind.
The moment when you surface from the wave–
Quick roar and dive replaced by quiet now,
This loud emergence from the barrel’s cave,
When soundless voice of awe suggests you bow.
The moment when the fading ember tone
Of singing bowl’s long resonance goes out,
And I am left with silent thoughts alone
To snuff, so I can hear the Silence shout.
These moments come to mind and ear, thank God,
To aid my aim to trust Thy staff and rod.
You can listen to me read it here
Images and poem by Ben White