Sanctuaries of Silence
Silence seems to have become my most desired friend. True silence. And she is ever hard to behold.
It’s not that I am unable to sit with her and listen, it’s that she is rare to find. I live alone and I cherish being able to sit in silence often. Sometimes I even patter around in the dark to better envelop any sense of silence. My body and soul soak it up like a marination.
In music, it is the silences, the pauses that give us perspective from the intoned sounds. My pianist friend, Kevin, tells me I like a lot of space in my music. Oh yes, I do! Space to inhale it, feel it, relish it, and let what I’m singing or saying or playing rest upon the listening ears - yours and mine!
Gordon Hampton has been recording sound and silence in the Hoh Rainforest of Olympia National Forest for 35 years. His world and life trajectory were changed when he sat to rest there at age 27. The sound transformed him. He found himself truly listening.
By holding his recording microphone, Hampton claims to have become a better listener. I ponder whether that is true for me when performing. Certainly the present becomes nearly prescient. ??
“Every place has a sound - a passing breeze…the first birdsong of spring, and the shifting tide reminding us of the celestial ballet. All of these things connect us back to the land.”
Hampton says the land is speaking and uses his work to promote non-polluted airspace, so hard to find. “Silence is the presence of time undisturbed. It can be felt within the chest. It nurtures our Nature. Silence is on the verge of extinction.”
When I go in to raw Nature, places like Tara in Ireland, the Gullah coast of South Carolina, I listen for the pulse of the land. I listen for the current pulse, and the history imbued in its soil. Sometimes it’s not so soothing, depending on the history. However, being in Nature is when I feel most present, aware of self. There are no distractions. Me and Source.
“Silence is the poetics of space, what it means to be in a place. The whole topography is revealed to me in the many echoes that come back towards me. And I think to myself - I know exactly where I am.” says Hampton. That speaks volumes to me. Exactly!
“When I listen, I have to be quiet. I become very peaceful. And I think what I enjoy most about listening is that I disappear, I disappear.” - Gordon Hampton
For me it’s not disappearing I’m after, but perhaps a joining of Oneness with all around me. Sound, space, silence.
Sanctuaries of Silence - Gordon Hampton