The silence in every season is special but the silence of summer is something more. This specialness comes early to Northern California this year. As we know, seasons do not always arrive by the calendar but have a mind and heart of their own. Summer is now here and so is the solitude of its stillness.
There is a fullness. The apricot trees are ripening. Soon figs will be hanging for my eager hands and mouth. The trees are bursting. The air is more than full, it is complete. The oven of nature is already just about done cooking. The silence reflects everything growing and almost grown. With little wind to disturb it, summer silence sits on the ground and in the air, holding everything and everyone.
Silence is a reminder always to slow down and touch and smell. But summer silence by its own weight slows us down even more. You want to be just present, completely present. Summer silence on the skin is the sun's gift. Bones and soul are being warmed. In the heat it is not clear where bones end and soul begins. Silence is overwhelmingly thick and beautiful.
The green grass of spring is turning brown early with summer. It will be many months of brown grass waving in the wind, vulnerable to fire, thirsty, sitting patiently in summer's quiet. Silence, we run over you in every season. We have so much to do. But summer silence stops many who never stop. The silence this time of year is just too powerful. Even those who think this is no time to slow down do find time to go slower. The silence, afternoon clouds, and evening sunset are just too spectacular for almost everyone to ignore.
Summer silence is more than a barbecue and a beer. It is nature in all its vastness ripening. We, too, have a ripening to celebrate. No matter how much success or how many disappointments, there is the silence of the heart beating strongly. Whatever age we are -- 8, 17, 39, 50, or 69 -- we, too, are ripe and perfect for our age. In these days, mothers and grandmothers have a special presence of silence. It is good to sit with our heart and the heart of friends and family. It is good to watch and listen then watch and listen some more to silence in the summer. So much life is present. The heat forces us to remember the important things. The heat of the silence teaches us a lot about patience. Soon in the silence of summer the tall grass is going to change again, this time turning from brown to gold. We don't want to miss this.
Speaking of not wanting to miss something, the swallows are now taking turns babysitting while the other goes out swooping for insects. Wings and their chatter break the silence. My favorite day is the day that comes soon, when the babies sit on the edge of the nest. The parents try to induce them to jump or, preferably, to fly!
The silence in summer can entice us to jump or to fly. If we approach summer silence in the gentle nakedness of the moment, both the past and future can disappear. The stillness can bring us to a place of knowing. Here we can jump or fly or simply be in a generous gratitude. Silence has served its purpose if we find such a moment. Not that silence needs a purpose. Silence is extraordinary in and of itself.
There is much talk these days about unplugging. I prefer to think of it as now is a good time to be plugging -- plugging into silence, plugging into much-needed peace and quiet. Every time I give my heart to silence, the wordless nature of being is given back to me. The heart, when it is not shrinking from cold or anxious in expectation, when the heart is just sitting in summer silence, it is something more than a heart. In these moments it is an altar.
This week a few of us gather from as far away as Hungary and New York and as close as Ashland and Sacramento to open together the gifts of summer silence. We invite you to join us at Silent Stay in Napa California and Assisi, Italy.
For more by Bruce Davis, Ph.D., click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.