A Silence as Big as the Universe


It was a full-moon night, just days A Silence as Big as the Universeafter the Schweitzer Ski Resort in northern Idaho had closed down for the season. The snow, piled high, blanketed the mountain as Bruce and I trudged up the slopes in our snowshoes, CamelBaks filled with hot tea. Lost in the effort of climbing the steep slope, no one else for miles around, the silence enfolded us like a mantle. Moon, stars, sky, snow. That night, I felt a part of everything around me--my spirit mingling with the world like breath, or grace.

Now I live in Marin County, California, where there are more people, more cars, more buildings than was true of our time living in Sandpoint. Don't get me wrong, I love this corner of the world, not least for its natural beauty, but it gets busier every day.

I miss the space and the silence. I miss, acutely, the uncluttered feeling, the elbow-room for the soul, that living in quieter, emptier places gift us with.

Surrounded by noise and crowds, I am more defended, more distracted, less open, and somehow less part of everything around me. So I try and make time for silence. I walk alone, or get up early, sip coffee, and let my imagination lope around in the emptiness and hush.

I like who I am better when my schedule, my home, and the places I inhabit hold time for quiet contemplation. Better still, I like spending time in the wild.

That night, after our long climb we flew down the steep incline of the mountain, snow spraying up like starlight.

We would soon be called back to the cacophonous world of California, but not quite yet.