Silence comforts me. I’m not referring to complete silence – a space void of all noise. I believe that’s an impossibility. As I write, it is quiet in my home but not silent. The furnace rumbles as it blows heat through the vents, the squeak of brakes on over-used delivery trucks coming and going, and Winston barking to let them know “this is my house.” I fidget, tapping my foot, adjusting my body in my chair and clicking the keys on my computer. It’s quiet but not silent: a sound that I still prefer and one that comforts me.
There’s only been once in my life where I experienced silence so golden, so crystal clear, that I’ll never forget it. It was summer many years ago and we travelled to Banff National Park, Canada. We had packed all our camping gear onto the plane and planned to camp in the mountains. After settling into our campsite, we decided to brave a long hike past Johnston’s Canyon to the Ink Pots mineral springs. We are not native to the mountains or hiking, so this was both a thrilling and scary experience for us. We hid our nervousness of wild bears and being far away from amenities by making bear jokes and scaring each other with made-up movie plots where the hikers don’t survive the wild. The farther we hiked the less tourists we saw. Only the serious hikers with proper clothing and gear passed by us.
Nonetheless, we carried on through the forest, ascending closer to the Ink Pots with each step. We travelled through thick forest breached with light every so often, around curved edges and narrow paths until we finally reached the opening – the big reveal. I picture this part in my mind as if I were in a movie. I anticipate the final steps before we reach the opening. The forest hides me like a friend covering my eyes as I walk into a surprise party. I feel the excitement increase and my sore muscles have a renewed strength. The countdown is on and within a minute or two the sun brightens and the forest is behind me.
I am standing in the valley surrounded by mountains. The glow of mineral pools in turquoise and teal. The air is fresh and clean. My lungs take it in. I walk slowly and with intention, not wanting to miss a sight. I hear the sound of rushing water and I am met with a glacier-fed stream. My instinct is to remove my socks and shoes and step in. I plant my feet in the river bed, feeling the cool water pulse on my legs. I am anchored in nature and unfurl my body like a flower stretching for sunlight. I look up as the colossal mountains peer down. I become one with my surroundings. I am greeted with a silence like none I’ve ever experienced. The space is void of all noise pollution. Only nature in its ideal form. The silence. The beauty. The grandeur. The vastness. For only minutes I entered a temple, and right there before my eyes was God encompassing me with everything my heart and spirit ever desired. It was magnificent.
Silence comforts me. In silence, I settle into the present, and instead of being the one in charge, I become the observer. I listen and let go. It is freeing.