“Nature grows her plants in silence and darkness and only when they have become strong do they put their heads above ground.”   

– Annie Besant

Silence – the absence of sound.   Quiet, hush.  There are only a handful of sounds in the tundra.  The occasional call of the majestic raven, black as night against the stark, white landscape.   The sound of the sea. Sometimes it roars. Today it is silent as it slowly becomes entombed in ice.  The incessant, nocturnal barking of the dogs that often keeps me awake. The  sound of the wind as it blows brutally through the village.  The occasional high-pitched whine of a Ski Doo.  The hum of the prop plane as it approaches the village.  It is my reminder of my isolation and is my connection to the rest of the world.  A few, very recognizable sounds, but mostly a continuum of silence.  

Plants begin their tiny lives in silence.  In the dark, underground, they remain still in the quiet, nestled tight within the seed,  awaiting just the right moment to burst forth.  And in silence, plants communicate with each other and their pollinators using a fragrant language, a collection of volatile chemicals that in combination, produce “words” and “sentences.”  The rich, fresh scent of pine and the blue, smokey haze that gives the Blue Ridge and Great Smokey mountains their names are observable elements of the silent communication in the forest.  Trees communicate silently underground also, through a mycorrhizal network configured between the hairlike root tips of the trees and microscopic fungal filaments.  Through this symbiotic information “intreenet, “ trees share nutrients and water, and send distress messages to each other about drought and disease.  In turn, trees respond to these messages sent amongst each other. Trees and other plants are not growing in isolation. They are connected to the rest of the plant world and receive important messages in silence.

Silence provides a space to listen to what God, the Universe, or the Great Spirit has to say.  It provides the pause to hear our own inner voice of silent knowledge, our intuition.  We can center ourselves in breath, relieving our compulsions that manifest in our head and help us return to heart-centered thought.  It is in the quiet where we can clearly hear the answers to the questions we have been asking and create a silent network of thoughts and intentions that relieve us of our isolation, connects us to others, and helps us regain our bearings that are so often lost in a world of chatter and noise. 

With the end of year upon us, many of us pause and reflect, setting goals or resolutions, as we transition into a new year. Maybe our expectations become larger than life as we bid farewell to a decade and usher in a new one. I encourage you to set aside regular time alone in silence, perhaps in meditation, or outdoors in a quiet space that speaks to you. Listen and let your heart guide you on your journey into the next year and decade.

The beautiful and silent tundra of Wainwright, AK

Published by Sarah Croscutt

I am the owner and facilitator of From the Outside, LLC, a program that connects people to the natural world, themselves, and each other through plant and nature-based activity, promoting self-awareness, healing, wholeness, and community. In addition, I am an environmental writer with essays included in several anthologies published by Plants and Poetry Journal and Wild Roof Journal (online). I would love to connect here or on Instagram @sarahc_outside.

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