May 15, 2016

Sit with Me in Silence: Instructions for Lovers, Friends & Strangers.

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There was magic hanging in the winding medieval alleyways. There was a melody just at the edge of my thoughts, lingering from last night’s dreams, but I couldn’t quite grab hold of it, thanks to the constant chatter in my ear.

I felt too bad to say anything. After all, my host had so kindly taken time out of his day to show me the sights of this Italian city—and I appreciated it, I really did.

And then, I’ve never figured out how to say, “Can we just not talk for a bit?” in a compassionate way. I’m not sure those words exist.

So, this is for next time, in advance, for those who know me—or others like me who sometimes crave silence and don’t know how to say so. This is not an “always” thing, but rather a “sometimes.” Sometimes, this, more than anything, is what I want:

Sit with me in silence.

Let the resonance of wordlessness gather between us, and steep our voiceless connection there.

Don’t hide from the discomfort of those empty heartbeats, moments, minutes; don’t bury that beauty beneath noise for the sake of noise.

This quietness that punctuates our conversation isn’t awkward. To the contrary, there is grace there—there in the pendulous periods, trailing semicolons and lingering ellipses that stretch between our phrases.

I ask you now, because I will be too polite—too afraid of hurting your feelings—to tell you later.

Sit with me in silence.

Let me speak first, for a change. I know it takes longer, and happens less often, but if you leave my thoughts space to breathe, they will eventually find their way into words. You see, sometimes—not always, but sometimes—chatter suffocates me.

I’m not shy, anymore, but neither will I ever be gregarious.

I, too, wonder why my pen flows so steadily across the page while my tongue rises reluctantly to speech. (Not always, but sometimes.)

I don’t know why.

I do know, however, that if you can hold my silence you can hold my joy, my grief, my dreams, my fear. If you can hover in the dark spaces, the hollow fissure between our voices, you can hear my soul when it chooses to lift its voice and sing. If you can sit with me—with presence, with patience, with love—in silence, you can walk with me anywhere.

So please, sit with me in silence.

Let that emptiness strip away everything else.

And then—and then, speak. And tell me what you hear.


Relephant Read:

We Exist in Solitude.


Author: Toby Israel

Image: Anneliese Phillips/Unsplash // Lucía Puertas/Flickr


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