Our end of the lake is frozen in suspended stillness. Birds and snowflakes flutter to the ground without a sound. A deer and her fawn pause motionless by the edge of the woods. Fir trees sway to the silent tune of a gentle wind. A red fox tip-toes down a frosty hill.
I wish I could encase the hushed winter scene in the round glass of a snow globe to gaze upon when the lake transforms into a carnival of summer activity.
American author Florence Page Jaques must have understood when she wrote, “I love the deep silence of the midwinter woods. It is a stillness you can rest your whole weight against. This stillness is so profound you are sure it will hold and last.”
I’ve always craved the sound of silence. Growing up, I was blessed with two spirited younger sisters. On inescapable car rides, I longed to stare out the window and daydream while they laughed uproariously, sang off-key and told grueling jokes. I’d wail, “Mom, make them stop!” Happily, the situation is no different now, though my tolerance has improved.
In exchange for getting to read stories and poetry all day, I spent most of my adult life in a small square room with a daily charge of more than 100 boisterous adolescents. Months after I retired from teaching, I still caught myself habitually “shushing” absolutely no one.
My own children were not particularly loud or rambunctious, but my daughter was born belting show tunes. Our home sounded like a never-ending rehearsal for the Tony Awards. Her more reserved younger brother often echoed a familiar refrain, “Mom, make her stop!”
Though I cherish seasons past, they help me appreciate and enjoy the deep silence of the midwinter woods. Each season has something to teach us; winter’s lesson lies in the beauty of her silence. Here are ten ways we can follow winter’s lead to bring a little more peace and quiet to our days.
- Speak with a softer volume and tone of voice.
- Avoid complaining, gossiping, criticizing, babbling, arguing, and opining.
- Turn off the television and other noise in your home.
- Ride in the car without music or news.
- Take a break from social media.
- Pray or meditate in silence.
- Engage in a quiet activity like a puzzle or game.
- Stop being so busy.
- Encourage children to enjoy quiet time.
- Observe and learn from winter’s sound of silence.