The Sounds of Silence by Cathie Schauer

Our chaplain Rev. Jim Honig discussed making room for silence in his spiritual-building practices at Morning Prayer and Cheryl Lemmons, our staff accompanist, mentioned the need for practicing silence and walking in her "practice tips of the day."

Practicing silence can be hard at a four-week long music camp. We are immersed in sound. In the music building, one hears music of all kinds emanating from practice rooms, faculty studios, and the large ensemble rooms. We can hear the lone solitary voice of a clarinet, a string quartet, or the sounds of the band. When we are in the offices, we hear different sounds: the whir of the copier, the whack of the large stapler, and the tapping of keystrokes as work is done feverishly to complete a task. 

Walking and immersing yourself in the out of doors is a practice that seems to be much easier to accomplish. On campus we seem to walk everywhere. Off campus we walk in the prairie, along one of the many trails here in Decorah, to Dunning Springs or the Whippy Dip. Walking is easy. One hears sounds when walking. We hear students calling for each other across the library lawn, the sound of a golf cart whizzing by, the gurgling of a stream, or the call of a bird. I am not sure that Rev. Jim and Cheryl had the actual act of walking in mind when they spoke at morning prayer and announcements. I like to think of it as just being or some would say communicating with nature.

Just being or practicing silence AND walking, or just being, can be hard. LSM helps remind me that sound is what makes the silence welcome, and even anticipated. When I go to Baker Village, where the faculty and staff stay at Luther College, the silence of the Decorah landscape is awe inspiring. We have had some nights when the stars have been spectacular. I have turned my phone off and walked by the prairie and "just been" - me, the silence, and the occassional deer or rabbit. Issues and problems that came up during the day seem to magically melt away. They become small. The silence and walking loom much larger. I invite you all to give it a try. Silence and just being. It can wrap its arms around you and give you the breath you need for the coming day and tasks ahead.