The internet, for all its evils and flaws, can be a wonderful place to discover things. Reading Biola University's The Lent Project devotionals, I click a link that takes me to Jayne English's Substack and find an essay on silence.She begins this way.
I hear it first thing in the morning. Though it's not really silence. There's the whir of the fan, the slowly ticking clock. It's not so much the absence of sound that defines silence, but a moment when the second hand slows the spinning Earth and creates an expansiveness of time. Not just on the borderlands of waking and sleeping, we cross the threshold into this broad space more often than we realize. Usually artists take us there.
She offers the reader a poem by Suzanne Cleary, Elm Street, which will go down as one of my favorites. You see, I've been reading more poetry now, usually in the mornings before I go to work. Poems force us to slow down. Poems demand silence, contemplation, and time—what our souls and bodies need, I believe, in this fast-paced world. Elm Street is "the story of a man sitting on the porch with his guitar, not playing, but getting ready to play. The whole street is in a state of suspended animation before the first strings are strummed." Here's an excerpt.
I am so happy to see the man who lives in the house on the corner
sit on the porch with a guitar on his knee, one arm draped
loosely, as if he patiently scans a vast repertoire, choosing
which song to play, or as if he has stopped mid-song
to tighten a string, then decided to listen to Elm Street
and compose a new song, notes his fingers will find and follow,
for Elm Street is a steep hill that draws skateboarders like a magnet,
that makes drivers roll down the truck window and stick an elbow out.
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