Friday, February 25, 2005


This. This is silence.

I stand on a slope, below the Elk Ridge and high above the labyrinthine contortions of a vast canyon complex, fifty miles from the nearest town. The crisp October sky is alive with the brilliance of a billion stars. Wisps of smoke dissipate directionless above the embers of my burnt down pinyon fire. There is not the slightest breath of air through the trees or over the landscape. No creature stirs.

I stand perfectly still, listen, and register ... nothing. I hear only the workings of my own mind, the periodic rhythm of my breath, and the beating of my heart. There is no more. The living earth around me is at total rest.

What makes this silence so profound is that it is palpable. Intense silence is not so much the absence of sound as the presence of an immutable, abiding stillness fixed in the dimensions of space; not the abstract space of geometry or the artificial space of the isolation tank or the empty interstellar space of the cosmos, but the full and faithful contours of this ridgeside in southeast Utah.

That a world so full of form, delineation, depth, shape, light, complexity and motion, so full of life and vitality, can rest in absolute utter peace is surely one of the great mysteries of existence. This is worthy of a lifetime of contemplation.

City dwellers, vaguely aware that the dark night sky is ablaze with stars, may never suspect the possibility of silence. How could they? Modern man is never free from the noise of his machines. Soon he will be one.

Alone, beneath these stars, I exalt and I mourn. I praise the earth and I glory in her grandeur. I mourn all we have lost and what we have yet to lose: Dark skies lost to the charged glare of electrified mercury vapor. Roadless landscapes. Fellow creatures, companions all on the journey of life. And the gift of silence, which is surely slipping away, like sand through our fingers.

Copyright (C) 2005 James Michael Brennan, All Rights Reserved


At Mon Mar 07, 02:32:00 PM, Anonymous bert said...

I'm annoyed that the blog shows only a time not a date. Nevermind.

I had no idea you were such a poet. While I agree with the preaching of the last two paragraphs, what came before had much more impact - simple beauty. I wished I had been there.


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