The autumn hush has descended over Old Grunn again. All across our lovely city of the plains, a nearly meditative contemplativeness seems to have set in.
For months, I hadn’t any need of an alarm clock. The construction work in my neighbourhood was sure to wake me up well before I needed, or wanted, to be awake. And it wouldn’t stop there. The noise would follow me throughout the day- blaring through my phone, in the din of traffic, and in the unceasing chatter and laughter on campus.
There was no respite, and I didn’t know that I needed it. That is, until one beautiful and very recent morning, when it announced itself to me. The music stayed off, and the laundry waited, while I simply sat in it. The quiet was like a warm bath after a winter dip at the Hoornsemeer.
Around town, a strange calmness has taken root. People whisper to each other like monks in a chapel, bike bells don’t toll as much, and university buildings (well, the ones in the Binnenstad at least) have taken on a sublime quality. Even students, fresh off the exam presses, walk with an almost papal gait.
A strange calmness has taken root, people whisper to each other like monks in a chapel, bike bells don’t toll as much
It’s a pensive quiet, however. The brutal war in Ukraine rages on, prices continue to rise, and a recession looms as the end of another year of uncertainty comes into view. It’s as if the whole world waits with baited breath, in anticipation of a cold, hard winter. Hardship is at the door.
Yet, there are positive signs. There is feasting in free Kherson, households across the continent count it a privilege to keep the heating off in solidarity, and the boffins up top are hard at work to get the economic train back on the rails. It may be quiet, but there’s a massive collective effort underway. One that we can share in.
On a personal level too, silence can be a source of hope and resilience. In it, Elijah found the inspiration that revived him. It creates a desperately needed space for reflection and bewonderment, and sifts the important things in life from the chaff. The lesson of the ages is that we’d do well to cultivate it.
It’s a leaf-littered late autumn, and serenity is the fruit of the season. It might just be worth our while to step aside, every once in a while, and take a bite.