Just barely audible from this sanctuary of silence I am in is the tolling of the bell of the venerable old United First Parish Church United, a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Quincy, Massachusetts established in 1639. It was the church of the presidents, John Adams and John Quincy Adams.
My silent sanctuary is housed in an architecturally delightful annex of the Thomas Crane Library. It’s an awesome space and today is peopled only by me and three other studious souls plus a mousy librarian. At present she is the only source of sound as she sorts a few catalogue cards as silently as she can.
It’s not that the regular space of the library is noisy. It’s busy but not noisy. The entire library is a respite from the cacophony of the modern world. But the strictly enforced silence of this sanctuary allows for the whisper of the soul of the universe to be heard by enquiring minds … and put on paper or quietly typed into a laptop. I write these thoughts intercepted from that whisper into my black-marbled composition book longhand. My scribbling is barely audible and does not disturb the few other great thinkers in this cavernous room.
Having set the scene for you and wondering with great anticipation what Great Revolutionary Thought the universe will send me to copy into my composition book … and eventually publish on-line to an eager world on Amazon to the wonder, amazement, and praise of readers around the world?
But as the hour approaches noon, my body inquires of my musing mind, “What shall I do for lunch?”
Leaving the greater question for a moment my attention considers the options. There are a few restaurants reasonably close to the library as well as “Billy’s Café in the library itself. Or I could pack it all in and take a bus to my apartment and enjoy left-over shepherd’s pie with a glass of red wine.
For a few moments, aided by the silence of my surroundings, I wonder if there is a decision strategy to assist me in this important selection of the path of my immediate future. This must be a query that others face regularly and would benefit from the wisdom that could be whispered to me from the silent universe accessed by this Silent Zone. I could just quickly scribble it in my composition book and publish it after I have slaked the inconvenient hunger of my body.
For a moment I interrupt this train of thought. A profound realization overwhelms my mind. It is only in such a silent sanctuary as I currently inhabit could I contemplate, with seriousness, the consequences of the decision of where to eat. And, oh yes, “when”; this was the additional question my bodily instincts were sending to my brain in an almost audible stream of consciousness.
And then, whispered out of the sacred silence, and sorted from the medley of choices, was the refreshing fact, The Townsend Café’ was the closest place where I could get a glass of red wine with my lunch.
And so, I close my composition book. I give thanks for the Silent Zone where such vital life decisions may be made.
I’m out to lunch.
See my books and stories on Doug Olsen’s Author Page