If this photo by my friend Linda had sound you wouldn’t hear much other than the trains going by on Kentucky rails. You could wait all day, and listen to the birds if your hearing works that well for you, but trains on the far shore and birds by your side are probably all you would hear.
I believe in silence.
Growing up in Wellesley, Massachusetts, my playground was the small stone church where my father was minister. I remember riding my big wheel tricycle silently down the blue-carpeted center aisle and that the perfect refuge for hide-and-go-seek was under the altar cloth. Because no one thought I would actually hide there. But it’s the cool silence of that stone church that I remember the most. It was heady and gave me life. It was there that I could escape the scrutiny and expectations of being a child of color and the son of a preacher….
In the silence of my father’s church, beneath the sun-illumed stained glass, I could hear my own voice—it told me I was smart and helped me dream a life worth living. Outside the church, the deafening discord of society told me I was a subordinated person, and someone to be feared…
Our cacophonous world not only drowned out my inner voice, it told other people how they should feel about me and those who look like me. I’m sorry they saw me as a monster…
When I was twenty-five, I found the strength to rediscover my inner voice. It happened at the bedside of my dying father.He encouraged me to see my weaknesses and illuminate my strengths. For the first time since I was a child, I was able to hear the voice of my spirit. It told me what I value and how I ought to live my own life.
He helped me to recognize the noise of the world so I could learn to stop listening to it…
I believe in a silence that allows me to stop paying attention to the world around me and start listening to my own heart.
Most days I find it as I walk with my daughters in the woods behind our home. It’s the church of my adult life.
I tell them I believe there is a voice inside all of us that needs to be heard.