Of the topics covered thus far on this Lenten journey, “silence” has given me the most pause. How does one cover silence in an image?

As I pondered, however, I realized something. Silence isn’t the absence of sound, it’s actually the presence of listening. A minimizing of sound is quiet, not silence. The two are often interrelated. In fact, I’m wired in a way which prevents me from entering into a listening silence unless I minimize sound distractions 1.

Even still, silence and quiet are not the same thing. It’s one of the reasons why a movie theatre tells patrons “silence is golden.” A movie theatre is anything but quiet, but when patrons refuse to be silent 2 they aren’t engaged in the on-screen spectacle – which becomes a distraction for others 3.

This rethinking opened me up to an image which depicts “silence” for me. Other than when I am writing, I find myself listening most when I’m reading. I love to become lost in the pages of a story, and through the art of silence I become swept up into it’s emotion and wonder. When I find in need to retreat from the world so I may reorient myself for listening I typically pull a book off the shelf, turn to a favorite chapter, and read 4. In honor of this tendency, I thought a picture of one of my bookshelves would be ideal to convey “silence.”

It’s part of the truth of who I am.

A book shelf, with "Truth," by Terry Pratchett, in focus

  1. It’s one reason why I don’t listen to music all that much. I find it distracting when I sit down to write. 
  2. That is, in a posture of listening
  3. Turn the cell phones off, people! 
  4. I’ve re-read the end of Deathly Hallows more times than I can count. There is something about the Battle of Hogwarts which captivates me.