The Silence Beneath the Chatter

I just completed my fourth day of an at-home retreat. It was supposed to be silent. I truly intended it to be silent. After all, my home is in a forest-like setting near a park in a quiet neighborhood, with towering trees bearing silent testimony from every window. My ever-understanding husband took off for our cabin in the woods so I could have silence and the Internet for a couple days at a time. (I was participating in an online retreat that featured silence except for six or seven hours of inquiry a day with Byron Katie, a teacher of mine).

I rearranged clients, family, friends, errands and life as I know it. Except…

And there were many “excepts.” The neighbor at the door, the phone. The refrigerator. My dog. I took care of these as I could, returning to meditation and inquiry as I could. I complained about the interruptions some, but mostly I just did my best.

A quasi-silent retreat is better than none, I told myself, even as I complained a bit in my mind.  And it was. Especially because I have memories of other times of silence when I was away from home and distractions. And they were also far from silent. As I searched for the retreat notes yesterday,  a poem I wrote back in 2006  popped up:


Silent Retreat (Talk Radio)


I came here to be in silence

but I seem to have brought along this radio host,

Desperate to keep ‘em callin’ in.

And here I am surrounded by green silence


But the Oval Office keeps me posted

Strategic planning committees, discourse on success.

Counting the losses, planning the next big moment.

When all I want is a change of occupancy,

To kick the bastards out of office

And then after that, we’d see.


I’d keep the dial on to the channel

Where the butterflies veer past the hummingbirds.

 And the moist skin shivers as the morning 

holds the sweet night air a little longer.

And I would stay tuned.


What I’ve learned since then is this:  the Oval Office in my head is doing its best. They’re not “bastards.” They just want a little love. And when I’m not busy kicking them out, I notice all the beauty I was missing before, just on the other side of the belief.

Oddly, this is where I’ve ended this last “urban” silent retreat of mine. The channel is much the same. Life’s juicy sweetness is there to be sucked in. Without the war with the voice in the head, that’s all there is. And I intend to suck away, just like the hummingbirds that throng my fuchsia. We’re all just savoring this juiciness of summer. And freedom.


Come along. Where do you fight the talk radio in your head? Check it out. What’s on the other side? What’s always there, whether you notice it or not? This is your birthright. Claim it in a few silent moments every day. See what shifts in your world.