“We can make our minds so like
still water that beings gather about us
that they may see, it may be, their own
images, and so live for a moment with
a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer
life because of our quiet.”
I’ve always wanted more quiet in my house as a child. By the time I was nine, I was seeking silence in the woods that backed up to the dirt-poor farm my dad bought. I’d sit on the million’s old rocks on Sand Mountain in Alabama and let the wind and noiselessness wash over me and baptize me with serenity.
For 30 years I had a quiet cabin in the foothills of the southern Appalachians. I tell you all this because my home here in Austin, Texas, thanks to this virus being passed around like an inhuman hot potato, is more quiet than it has been in a hundred years or more.
What do we do with the potentially deadly lull in assaults to our overstimulated ears? Maybe, just maybe, we let more light into our daily lives – perhaps some almost heavenly light. We’ve been looking at modernism’s electric lights, neon signs, cell phones and computer lights for so long that we have, to quote an old song, been “blinded by the light.”
We have been Plato’s cave dwellers for so long seeing dollar signs, credit cards, GNP flashing upon a movie-like screen in our collective caves. Chained to the dark floor thinking that what we are seeing projected on the screen is reality.
We may be the generations who break free of our chains, crawl out of the caverns, see the sun, and finally see that what we have been looking at is not real but illusions and brain-washed fantasies. Perhaps due to the Coronavirus (not “Chinese Virus”) even in the quiet nights we can feel human again and
“We know the road; as the moonlight
Lights everything, so on a night like this,
The road goes on ahead, it is all clear.”
And the road ahead, while cluttered a bit with hoarders and dishonest politicians, is also filled by those who are helping others, shopping for others, praying for others, loving strangers, and maybe, just maybe, we will start crawling out of the darkness of greediness and entitlement and live more gently on the earth and with each other so that when the Spanish poet, Antonio Machado asks us the question: “What have you done With the Garden that was entrusted to you?” We will say we tended it with lots more love and very timely tenderness.
“I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.
and it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill.
I am ill because of wounds to the soul, take a long, long time, only time can help
and patience, and a certain difficult repentance
long, difficult repentance, realization of life’s mistake, and the freeing oneself
from the endless repetition of the mistake
which mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.”