Category Archives: Silence

Tired of All the Noise?

We expect monks and mystics to tell us how important silence is. Gordon Hempton is neither of those. He is an acoustic ecologist, someone who studies the sound of the natural world and seeks to preserve it. In his book, One Square Inch of Silence, Hempton says there are less than a dozen places left…

Alone With My Thoughts? Just Shock Me.

  All mankind’s troubles are caused by one single thing, which is their inability to sit quietly in a room. -Blaise Pascal   When I leave on vacation later in August, I am leaving my smart phone at home. There should probably be some version of methadone for those who stop doodling with their phones…

Monastic Gin

I am sitting with my father, playing gin rummy, but I might as well be sitting in a monastery or any retreat house. I am here for a week. Our days are simple and highly ritualized. Breakfast is at 8:30. (Two eggs on an English muffin, daily, for him.) We may converse for a while…

How Celia Dispelled My Fear of Falling

“Never fall within sight of the lodge.” That was my friend Bob’s good advice when I was learning to ski more than twenty years ago. He meant, of course—you can fall all you want on the mountain, but when you come shushing down that gentle slope to the base, you have an audience. People are…

The Lantern Never Lies

On the odyssey of life we need some way of knowing where we are, and whether we’re headed the right direction. In English, to be “oriented” is to know where east is. Historically, church buildings are situated so that the altar is on the east wall, and almost always a window opens to receive the…