The Milks ventured out yesterday to leafy Kent for an indoor picnic (aka the car) and a short walk. It was drizzling a little as we parked the car. Tummys full of cheese sandwiches we began our stroll down the hill from the carpark. As we meandered our way through the forest something happened to me that I cannot fully explain, except to say that I suddenly felt light. A feeling of weightlessness as if my physical body had lost stones, and the neck pain that had been haunting me for days disappeared. My mind that usually zooms around at 100 mph, speeding uncontrollably this way and that like Potter’s golden snitch , was suddenly and curiously still. Restful. And as I breathed in the icy air, slowly, in exaggerated breaths, it suddenly hit me. Silence. Total, unadulterated, astonishing silence.
You don’t appreciate the level of noise you live with on a daily basis, until it’s no longer there. No more so than for a hardened city dweller like myself. Awakened by the piercing alarm call at an hour unsuited to our body clocks. As the kettle hisses into life and the toaster pings, we listen to the blare of the radio reporting the morning news. Small children screaming for toast, wimpering and whining as they pull on the knees of your pyjamas. The slam of the front door as you leave for work, following the hoot of the traffic as it careers through the city streets. The rattle of the train speeding into Charing Cross. On your right a suited man rustles and thwackes his paper, straightening its edges. On your left, a teenager listens to his ipod at an insensitive volume. By the time we reach our destination we have experienced a cacophony of sounds, a war waged on all our senses.
I sometimes wonder whether it is this constant stimulation that is at the root of much of my anxiety, my low moods, my frustrations. Is the human body simply not equipped to deal with this level of aural bombardment, reacting with dangerously high levels of adrenalin, preparing to flee and fight, if not in body then in mind?
Was this what Jesus experienced in his 40 days and 40 nights in the desert? An inner calm, weightlessness, introspection fuelled by the absence of any sensory interaction.
I know I felt enlightened today, and it was really quite wonderful.