Today I took myself into town and walked up the hill to the Cathedral. I was early for my choir reherasal, so I simply sat in the body of the Cathedral and breathed in the silence. It’s a different sort of silence to what I experience anywhere else, even in the peaceful haven of my flat. Deeper, somehow. Ordinary silence can be shattered by the day-to-day intrusions of a noisy world: cars going past, loud conversations on the periphery of hearing, the slamming of doors and the irritating mosquito-whine of machinery. It doesn’t take much to shatter silence – but the silence in the Cathedral is somehow different. Instead of being destroyed by the noise of humanity’s determination to make its mark, the silence in the Cathedral simply makes room for it. The silence deepens, and exists around the din.
So I sat there, breathing silence, and slowly, without my noticing it, the knots in my brain – those knots that after the day I’d had I was so accustomed to I barely noticed them – began to unravel. The clamouring thoughts fluttering against the inside of my skull like trapped moths stilled and quietened. They didn’t go away, of course – but somehow, under the arch of the Cathedral’s ceiling, soothed by living silence, there was enough room to contain them all. Suddenly I could hear myself think. Suddenly there was enough room in my head for me to be able to breathe.
I sat there in silence, alone and yet not alone. And I was grateful.