I can tell summer is over because I have put my watch back on my wrist.
For twenty blissful days in August my left arm was bare and I only had
to know the time for at most four events throughout the whole holiday.
Time plays havoc with our peacefulness working its pressure on our minds
and bodies bringing unwanted and often unnoticed stress. The background
tracking of time in my mind interferes with my search for silence and
peacefulness. Sara Maitland in her book “A Book of Silence: a journey in
search of the powers and pleasures of silence”1 describes how she goes
to many different places to find silence, the loneliness of a Scottish
cottage, where she lived as a solitary for a whole year, the peculiar
silence of the desert and in the end she discovers that true silence
comes finally from within.
The simple absence of noise is not enough.
I do not especially like William Henry Davies poem “Leisure” because the
way it scans and rhymes somehow jars with me but its famous line
A poor life this, if full of care
We have no time to stop and stare
does have something to say about the way we miss so much because of the
business of our minds. Sitting in a remote corner of Snettisham nature
reserve one afternoon with Frances companionably painting alongside, the
dogs sleeping under the shade of the bench, still and slow and quiet, I
heard the small bird on the ground rustling in the leaves before I saw
it, heard the bee exploring the thistle flowers and I soaked up the
beauty and peace of that time. I could sit there as long as I wanted,
there was no need to go or to move or to be anything other than man
sitting on seat.
W B Yeats puts it differently –
His eyes fixed upon nothing
A hand under his head
Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
His mind moves upon silence.
From “A long legged fly”
These times are very precious so I want to say thank you to those who
make my holidays possible, Janet Mackenzie and Austen Smith for taking
the Sunday services, Paul Ingram for taking the midweek services, and
all of you who keep St. Margaret’s flourishing throughout the summer
months swapping and chaning duties so that we may all be rested and
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