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Long silence

December 22, 2011

It’s December 22, 2011, the day after the shortest day of the year. I lit white candles in clear glass candle holders at dinner last night to celebrate the solstice and both my kids spontaneously said how much they liked them. There’s something about the December darkness, walking in it in the morning, feeling enveloped by it in the late afternoon, lighting it with candles, that stirs me.

Vaclav Havel said that “hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”

After a semester off from the MFA program, which I used, mainly in silence, to revise my novel, I am returning to Montpelier for the winter residency. As the day approaches, or rather the night since I’m flying on a red-eye through Newark, I am in the process of preparing myself on the surface and in those deeper places that require searching out and tending.

I’ve done my homework for workshop. I’ve read more novels by faculty. Yesterday, I finished rereading and tugging at my novel-in-progress, getting it into the best shape I currently can. I’ve written out my goals, for the program, for the novel, for the semester, and plan to ink them to the skin on the inside of my arm to glance at when I find myself drifting. I made a toffee-hazelnut-chocolate-candy-thing and packed it in a small tin to feed myself at those times when I am worn thin.

And still… as much as the words articulate, as much sound and meaning as they make, the current of silence continues, the silence of my heart beating when I’m not listening for it but trusting that it’s there, the silence of breath and memory and the way the path makes itself clear only as I walk it.

Find time for silence, I think. During residency, during the days of 2012 as I work on the novel, on poems, on listening to my kids and my husband and the others I love. It’s almost like I can hear it.

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