Any good teacher is familiar with intense, focused working silence. It is glorious. In an earlier post I talked about working in art classes in silence and traveling with silence. The dragonfly in these photos sat in silence in my garden, his gossamer wings occasionally rustled by a soft breeze and his tail absorbing the sun. I thought he would fly with my presence, but he stayed. There is a time for this kind of silence.
Seven months I traveled. I carried silence with me like a treasure in a box. Cracking open the box silence was what I heard here:
Sometimes there were people, but still silence only lightly disturbed by muffled whispers as in museums or libraries. Working silences.
Teachers know another silence. The silence behind you. I can still call up the silence in St. Louis that comes before a tornado as the atmospheric pressure changes or can only imagine the silence of a tsunami withdrawing the water before throwing it back towards shore. As a teacher you kept your ears tuned to your back. Mostly all was well, but on occasion that silence would indicate something coming, something awry. A child’s hair being surreptitiously cut, a coloring on a wall, a cheating, an intentional act of deception or harm.
As I traveled there was an odd unsettling silence from home. My teacher’s ear caught something. My home struggled to breath. I kept traveling. Beloved friends were silent. My teacher’s ear caught something. I kept traveling. The silence behind me was speaking. It spoke truthfully. Something was awry.
I am glad to be home where I have a lovely abode and many, many dear friends and colleagues. The silence is broken now. All of the silences. Reparations are in order to repair the damages, walls need scrubbing, hair needs to grow again and dignity returned to those who lost it, behind my back in silence.