The record player spun. Subtle scratching from the needle-friction on the vinyl. Simon and Garfunkel sang out into the living room, where 1970s wall-to-wall blue shag carpet met wood paneling that climbed halfway up and butted against wall paper. The Sound of Silence.
I don’t know that sound. How does one hear what is un-hearable? Even in those days, in the big white house when I was very young and in years that followed, I remember troubling my mind over that lyric.
Silence. Now in my house, I hear the hum of a fan, cars on the street, my dog breathing heavy with sleep. Sirens from time to time, fingers tapping the computer keyboard, an airplane. Quiet, yes. Silent, no.
I search for silence in my mind. God knows it is not there. We encourage silence as spiritual discipline. Let’s have a moment of silence. I can’t reckon it. It remains a tension.
Silence. Like hiding, like squelching, like choking back words. Don’t speak. Like a hand over a mouth, put a sock in it, pillow-muffled. Like be quiet. Be seen and not heard. Don’t tell.
Like delayed justice. Injustice.
Like not-healed. Unanswered prayers. Not yet.
Guttural cries, wordless screams. Choking sobs.
Sadness. Grief. Like death.
It blares. Not at all silent. Overbearing, gloating. Like punches, voices rising, innocence shattered. Like martyrs hanging from trees. Like put my fingers in my ears—it’s too much.
In the courtroom, in the church, in prayer, in hospitals, in waiting rooms. On city streets under lights when the business day ends. In alleyways between commerce buildings, behind houses. In the aftermath of toppled statues. In rubble where cities once bustled and thrived. On Main Street.
In the stillness of nighttime. In me. In my heart.
And so it continues to spin. Subtle scratching from the friction. I suppose Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel keep singing it on a media player somewhere. I’m still troubling over the lyric.