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January 15, 2016

Book: Silence: Making the journey to inner quiet
Author: Barbara Erakko Taylor
Innisfree Press. Philadelphia, PA. 1997. Pp 152

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Silence has gotten drowned in the noise of our media-drenched culture. We have come to fear silence as a symptom of aloneness or vulnerability. In this beautiful and contemplative book, Barbara Taylor describes her decision to turn off the noise and move toward the joy of spiritual silence in the simplicity of everyday tasks. Come join her on the journey to inner quiet and rediscover that silence is not a fearful foe but a constant friend.

An Excerpt from the Book:

It's like a cavernous world. I think gazing up at the green-tufted giants. My footsteps sink into a century of fallen brown bark-hair shed by the slivering sides of sequoias. The sound of my boots disappears into the muffled world as I creep through the forest. A step. A pause. One of the giants has fallen, years, decades, perhaps centuries ago. I climb on top of it and sit, unable to contain the joy that silently soars up into the dark-needle'd canopy of green-firred limbs.

The sun splays golden shafts of light through the forest, the gauzy glimmer of them bathing the forest floor in an iridescent glow.

No one other than myself has yet ventured into the early morning musing of these trees.

I can almost feel them stretching upward with a yawn, as though unbending from a century of shadowed night. With their feet cool in the dusky shadow-world beneath their own boughs, they do slow calisthenics toward the heavens above, sending the sun's warmth down through their capillary veins to the forest feet below.

I lie on my back, stretched out on the bark, idly gazing upward.

Overhead the trees play an early morning match with the rising sun, batting its rays back with green-needled racquets. Few escape its greeny boughs. Dust motes dance in a solar mist of angled sunshine.

I sink into a peaceful silence, wrapped, a timeless orphan, in the embrace of centuries. The trees close ranks around me as I free fall out of my human time into theirs.

No sound disturbs my reverie.
No jet streaks across the sky in early morning roar.
No squirrel scrambles across a crust-dry layer of leaves.
No bird sings through the forest.
I am utterly alone.
In the silence of sequoias

Such a strong silence. It steps effortlessly through my fears. I marvel. I feel my body quieting within me, sinking into the forest's movement -- a time that is moving slower, and slower. Until my time is so slow, I know -- for one shimmering timeless moment -- all will always be well.

Table of Contents:

Part 1: Meeting silence
One dark night,
Fired with love's urgent longings
--ah, the sheer grace! --
I went out unseen,
My house being now all stilled
"Dark Night," St. John of the Cross

Silent beginning: meeting silence face-to-face
Water: entering a silent river of joy
The glacier: facing the icy fear of silence
The clock: following a kitchen timer to pure silence
Noisy silence: opening secret doorways to silence
Unsettled: falling into timeless silence
How did this happen? Birthing silence

Part 2: Struggling with silence
Sixth sense: when silence is terrifying
Betrayed: when silence is consuming
The basement: when silence is pitch black
The mall: when silence is gaudy
The hotel: when silence is lonely
Lost: when silence is a guide
New Orleans: when silence claims more
Anger: when silence is the only language

Part 3: Building silence into a lifestyle

Alone: the solitude of silence
The redwoods: the timelessness of silence
The house: the shelter of silence
Stones: the strength of silence
Writing: the balance of silence
The candle: the prayer of silence

Part 4: Living in silence
Even now: a return to solitary roots
Dawn: a quiet awakening
The broom: a brush with ordinary silence
Chopping broccoli: a savoring of Sunday silence
The flower: a gentle unfolding of silence
Evening: a celebration of silence
Silent endings: a song of love


In deepest solitude
I found the narrow way:
A secret giving such release
That I was stunned and stammering
Rising above all science

I came into the unknowing -- St. John of the Cross