The other night, after taking the dog out to burn off a little energy, I sat down in one of the big orange chairs in our front yard for a few moments. It was a dark, but clear night. I didn't see stars, but the moon, that had been growing bigger night by night, was hanging low in the sky, looming so beautiful and large. I had this strange sensation of feeling both insignificant and small … and at the same time feeling more connected to the natural world than I had in a very long time.
It was quiet. Even Baxter had settled down in the grass next to me, and for a moment all I could hear was his quiet panting and the rustling of the wind through the leaves in the branches above.
For a moment, I was open to stillness.
For a moment, I was present to the world just as it was.
For a moment, there was peace.
Then a car came barreling down the road, lights shining, music blaring – and the moment was gone.
For most of us, it is rare to sit in silence - open and present to whatever lies before us. It is rare, and it is a gift. As noted earlier, one of the traditional practices of Elul is setting aside time for silent reflection each day. Even sitting in silence for just ten minutes on a daily basis allows our racing minds to settle a bit, and this settling of the mind allows us to see our lives more clearly. In true silence we might finally be able to listen to what our hearts are yearning to say to us about where we are in our lives and why we sometimes feel so lost or so far from our deepest aspirations.
These moments are actually moments of awakening.
They are the stirrings of teshuvah.
And they begin with silence.