Over our own fathoms

landscape-1115428_1280
photo at pixabay

‘But the silence in the mind’

But the silence in the mind
is when we live best, within
listening distance of the silence
we call God. This is the deep
calling to deep of the psalm-
writer, the bottomless ocean
we launch an armada of
our thoughts on, never arriving.

It is a presence, then,
whose margins are our margins;
that calls us out over our
own fathoms. What to do
but draw a little nearer to
such ubiquity by remaining still?

R S Thomas
Counterpoint, 1990

Many years ago I spent a night in a comfortable bed, set in the centre of a palatially large stone-walled bedroom, in an exquisitely beautiful converted priory in Northern France. Many generations of monks hadn’t entirely left. The beauty of deep silence all around me moved me to inexpressible joy. Silence spoke eloquently of one of the chief trials of contemporary, Western, human experience: the perils of too much noise.

In the morning sunlit-warmed mist, over wide and silent horizon, rooted me to the landscape. It was painful to leave. And I am daily faced with a choice. Either to complain about noise, or to make space often to withdraw from it. Most often I choose the latter, having found it entirely possible, for most of my adult life, and much of boyhood too. Letting go of complaining is best, for it takes up too much time and energy.

Better to remember that old priory, and the morning mist; better to listen for deep calling to deep, the bottomless ocean, the presence. Better to choose regular silent space. And to be still. It’s a matter of will. Yes: counterpoint.

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One thought on “Over our own fathoms

  1. Yes. Thank you. I remember as a young teacher, tired at the end of the day, on a noisy bus home full of kids out of school, and a tiny lily pond I had once seen which became a sanctuary in my mind….

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