Seventeen inches of snow quietly blanketed Pittsburgh last Friday night and paralyzed the city by morning. It stopped the roaring port authority buses. It muted rubber against pavement. Road conditions, weather updates, cancellations and closings dominated the local news until I silenced it as well.
Around early afternoon, as I was gazing out the window, still curled up on my couch and sipping a cup of coffee, I watched people crawl out from their caves to slip and slide in the white ocean. A team of four emerged from my building. Armed with shovels, a broom and windshield scraper, they trudged to one of the mounds marking the edge of a side street. Within 15 minutes, a gray compact car was resurrected. Later, a youth knocked on my door, shovel in hand, and made an offer to clear the walk way.
I was stunned, but not by the daunting task of scraping and shoveling my own car. Millions of crystallized flakes ushered in other possibilities. The absence of sound frequencies detected by my ears was startling. Silence screamed. Seventeen inches beneath the surface, I was aware of inhaling and exhaling. I was aware of my heartbeat. I could see the tiny vein in my thumb pulse. I could hear the Divine whisper. "Be still and know that I am God," it said. It continued.
I was so unaware. I was unaware of my emptiness and deadened to my physical surroundings until I heard that voice. The voice of the Divine awakened me. The cold, snow and ice around my soul was being scraped and shoveled. Perhaps this is why some of the religious devout take vows of silence. It's like fasting for the soul. They know that the silence will pave the way to the stillness they yearn for where the stillness will have the space to speak.
The stillness spoke the earth into existence. It will continue to speak long after the earth returns to dust. On the eve of the next snow fall, I do not despair or succumb to depression because I know that the stillness will speak to me again.