It’s summertime! How do you find silence amidst the droning of cicadas or locusts? What does it mean to be silent during the electric crackle of a late afternoon thunderstorm? How do we maintain our commitment to silence when we’re juggling family vacations, back to school to-do lists, or even more lasting and significant life transitions? We have this myth that summer is a laid-back time, but often we find it carries its own intensity. Where do we find silence then?
In the middle of this change… the silence really stirs up a lot. So it helps me to find a balance, a rhythm, but it also doesn’t allow me to run away from the fear, or the joy, or anything else. It’s right there in my face. — Kevin Johnson
Cassidy shares a provocative quote from an essay by Mary Oliver in which she talks about how poetry needs to “rest in intensity,” and uses this as her metaphor for navigating a very busy summer — a summer which she describes as being like a poem.
Kevin finds his summer to be both joyful and yet poignant, as one of his daughters prepares to go away to college for the first time. And yet this has been a time for him to find a new connection to his own practice of silence, and how an embodied sense of silence has felt like a friend reassuring him that everything is okay.
Carl, meanwhile explores how his relationship with silence this summer has been supported by two endeavors beyond his daily meditation practice: taking yoga classes with his wife, and writing poetry… just for joy.
I’m trying to look at my summer as a poem… just keep moving forward, just keep plugging away, but finding those pauses that often become shorter in times like this, that often become just the gaze out the window, or just the long stare into the coffee cup. — Cassidy Hall
We finish this episode with each member of the team briefly recounting the books we’ve been reading — and even share some insight into the t-shirts we were wearing the day we recorded this episode!
The silence is always there. And the question is, to what extent are we listening to it, or are we listening to whatever else is going on? — Carl McColman
Some of the resources and authors mentioned in this episode:
- Mary Oliver, Winter Hours: Prose, Prose Poems, and Poetry
- Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Step
- Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Breath
- Simone Weil, Love in the Void: Where God Finds Us
- Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening to the Voice of Vocation
- Austin Channing Brown, I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
- Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays
- Anthony Storr, Solitude: A Return to the Self
- Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World
- Owen Barfield, Saving the Appearances
- J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
- C. S. Lewis, The Signature Classics
- Charles Williams, Outline of Romantic Theology
- Mary Oliver, Devotions: The Selected Poems
- Michael Pollan, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence
- Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma
- Carlos Castaneda,
- Alan Watts,
- Timothy Leary,
- Joel F. Harrington, Dangerous Mystic: Meister Eckhart’s Path to the God Within
- Daniel Horan, The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton
Cassidy talks about fundraising for research to help fight the degenerative disease Friedreich’s Ataxia. To learn more about this disease and to contribute to the fight against it, visit the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance website, www.curefa.org.
And finally, here is a glimpse of some of the handpainted silk scarves created by Fran McColman. These aren’t for sale (yet) — but stay tuned!
Episode 31: Silence in the Summertime
Hosted by: Carl McColman
With: Cassidy Hall, Kevin Johnson
Date Recorded: August 9, 2018