the last footsteps have trailed out the door, down the walk, and into the alley. it’s barely half past eight. and i am blanketed, as i’ve been the last two days, in a sumptuous, seep-deep-into-my-pores afghan of quiet. it’s not silence, for there’s a clock ticking just inches away, and there’s a pesky mower off in the distance. but not even the wind is whirring. and the hum of the fridge fades into not much notice.
quiet to me is essential, is holy. is where the whispers and dreams slip in, unannounced. where they sift and drift and catch in the eddies of my soul. where they chase away the emptiness that comes from too much too much. quiet is the elemental contemplative bedrock from which my chalice is filled.
and i’ve been waiting for this, waiting for the curative tincture of being home alone, with hours unclaimed, hours unfurled in the timelessness of morning, followed by afternoon — quiet tumbled softly on quiet.
it’s the glorious gift of back-to-school, that cold shock at the end of summer when alarm clocks start clanging before 6 a.m. and the kitchen counter becomes a short-order diner, with PB&J slapped up on one end, and waffles and berries dumped on the other. more often than not, there are exhortations to hurry, and the minute-by-minute bellowing as one of us — that would be me, but of course — broadcasts the unflagging advance of the minute hand, slowing for no one.
i sometimes forget, in that deep down sort of way, how very much i need quiet. depend on it. how it’s neck and neck with oxygen in the shortlist of things that keep me alive.
yet, all of a sudden the other morning, not long after the last shoe walked out the door at 24 minutes past seven, i felt as if i’d just been submerged in a velvety bath, maybe even one spilling with lavender-scented bubbles, and for the first time in months, i felt my deep-down hollows filling in, filling up. you know the hollows, the ones etched and stretched over time, the ones that come without notice, worn down by weeks of helter-skelter not knowing what in the world to expect of a day — who would wake up at noon, who would want breakfast at 2 in the afternoon, and who suddenly needed a ride to the far end of kingdom come. those sorts of upside-down days are the bread-and-butter of mama-hood. it’s all topsy-turvy, all the time. you hang on by a cord, a frayed cord, a cord that just might snap without notice.
you weather the whirl. you look down and see that one foot is galloping (barely) behind the other, trying hard to keep up. you fall in bed at night and wonder why your bones let out a sigh. but since it’s all punctuated with those drippy peaches, and the sand between your toes, and black-eyed susans ad infinitum — the sweet parts of summer — you pay little mind.
and then the quiet comes. it slithers in through the screens still in the windows, it taps you on the shoulder, or more aptly, the heart. and suddenly, for the first time in weeks, you perk up your ears and you hear only the sounds of an old house breathing.
maybe it’s something to do with the light, the molasses-tinged light that drips across the kitchen table this time of year. this holy blessed born-again time of year.
i am, this hushed late-august morning, breathing again. breathing deep. i am savoring, relishing, the rare and blessed gift of soft, slow, deeply quiet time.
and i am whispering — quietly, quietly whispering — my most certain and soulful thanks to the heavens from which all this comes.
i’d thought i might write light of heart this morning; i’d felt that way the past couple days. but then last night something bumpy happened, and my heart doesn’t feel quite so light anymore. time — and quiet — will heal, no worries.
my sweet boy, the one now teaching in a classroom on the fourth floor of an old brick school on the west side of chicago, talks about “catching the slipstream.” it’s a wonderful phrase, a phrase that captures the magic of brainwaves and timing and that ephemeral pulse beat that syncopates writing. i feel like the slipstream slipped past me this morning, which always saddens me, leadens my heart. but there’s a beautiful late-summer morning, just outside my kitchen door. and there’s a garden where bumblebees buzz, and berries ripen on the vines. the pit-pat of my bare toes on the wide planks of this old kitchen floor, as i putter and put things in order, it is all part of the alchemy of healing that i always find here amid the blessing of quiet. may your day, too, restore you, and quench the thirst of your parched parts.
do you, too, need daily doses of quietude?
p.s. as i typed that very last sentence, i heard the cry of the canadian geese, so i walked to the door, and looked to the heavens. sure enough, the chevron of southbound geese, winging their way to where they belong for the winter…