It’s not silence I’m afraid of

sunday morning, quilting

Because John is in hospital and visiting hours are limited, I am spending a fair bit of time in my rooms nearby. It’s very quiet here. I brought the wonderful Topeka School to read (Ben Lerner’s new novel) and I also brought two quilts to work on. Reading is best at bedtime, to sink into Topeka, Kansas, and the lives of the protagonist Adam and his parents; and quilting is good by the window in the afternoons when the weight of what’s to come in the next few months is heavy, not just in a metaphorical way but in my limbs, my thinking. I anticipate that John will make a very good recovery from his bilateral hip replacement surgery. It’s the unexpected thing that presents uncertainty. Will he regain the use of his right foot or will he have to learn a whole new way of moving in the world, compensating at every step for the loss of feeling, the damage to his nerve. Whatever happens we will do our best. When it’s light out, the trees brilliant gold and deep orange, the house finches busy at the work of opening maple seeds, I am ready for anything. But when the weight settles, I pick up my quilt and stitch free-hand spirals into the sashing between the log-cabin blocks. The process of moving out from the centre and then letting the thread find its way out into the open space is calming, in the way I suspect meditation might be. My meditations are of the practical sort though; they always have been. Kneading dough, weeding, watering tomatoes and easing their unruly stems around strings leading them upwards. So I’ll stitch and hope that the threads will take me–us–in the direction we need to go now. Sure-footed or not.


Why are you so afraid of silence,
silence is the root of everything.
If you spiral into its void,
a hundred voices will thunder
messages you long to hear.

4 thoughts on “It’s not silence I’m afraid of”

  1. “When compassion fills my heart,
    Free from all desire,
    I sit quietly like the earth.
    My silent cry echos like thunder
    Throughout the universe.”
    Rumi, Whispers of the Beloved

  2. Handwork is, I am convinced, a form of meditation. The mindfulness of placing the needle within a square millimetre, the whisper of thread moving through cloth. I do not quilt, but I am a rughooker and a cross stitcher, and both activities center me in ways that are so simple, they are profound.

    1. I think women have always known this. Even though it’s work (and in earlier days perhaps never-ending work), it’s also subversive for what it allows the mind to do. I’m very grateful for my quilts right now.

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