Feeling the quiet, the amazing deep silence in the giant Redwood groves in Northern California was sublime. My sister and I would get out of the car, on the more remote roads off the beaten path and I would say, oh my god, do you hear it? and she would say hear what? and I would say yes, exactly! Nothing. Complete and total silence... stillness.
I've felt that same quality of stillness a handful of times and places. Looking out from Yosemite's Glacier Point across the deep, river sculpted valley, past Half Dome to stark, rugged Tenaya Canyon. Watching meteor showers over Crater Lake in the middle of the night cradling my sleeping six-year-old in my lap. Looking out and down from the Kalaupapa Lookout on Moloka'i, to the sheer cliffs that rise three thousand feet from the ocean and the tiny, once-tragedy-filled peninsula below. Alaska's other worldly Glacier Bay. Swimming in the Gulf Stream, where deep indigo and golden sun rays dance with such mind-boggling intimacy; and being in the water eye to eye with wild dolphins...
I've never been quite sure exactly what I was experiencing. Quiet and silence, yes. But I suspect it is much more than that. Something intangible and unnameable... that is at once quiet and yet so full it overflows. Something so permeable it is not just out there, in the beauty of nature, but also inside. In everything in fact; in me - how else would I recognize it - the trees, the animals, the sunlight, the air, and the space that holds it all. It is ageless, eternity itself; it catches my breath, fills me with awe, and leaves me in wonder, knowing with certainty I have come face to face with the sacred. Here's another thing I suspect... I suspect that this thing, this stillness, is always there... is never not there, in fact, but it takes a certain place, no, not even a place, though I'm guessing it's more accessible in certain circumstances, in ancient groves for example, in deep meditation for example, in the wild, in deep water, starry nights, anywhere there is quiet, always there; in bliss, in fear, in despair, in contentment... always there... never ever not there...
“Whenever there is stillness
there is the still small voice,
God's speaking from the
nature's old song,