I am the world’s biggest fan of quiet, well, one of them anyway. I love quiet and all the sounds of quiet.
It’s quiet in my home right now. I hear the fan from my computer and a few birds singing outside. Mary is in the kitchen pouring a bowl of cereal. It’s quiet.
My father ate a meal at the Manor with my mother the other day. He commented on how quiet it was.
“It was a lovely meal,” he said, “but nobody spoke at all during it.”
“Well, Dad,” I reminded, “they may be hard of hearing or have dementia issues.”
“There may be all sorts of reasons for it,” he agreed, “but it doesn’t change the fact that there was no conversation. It just seemed kind of strange.”
I tried to picture a table full of elderly people, focusing on their food and eating in silence.
Our dinner table is never silent. In fact, it can be a rather raucous affair.
As I thought about the quiet of eating, I remember sitting on our side porch years ago next to a box with Monarch caterpillars and milk weed. We used to tromp through the field and find dozens of the caterpillars, hiding on the bottom sides of leaves. We would gather as many as we could find and bring them home to watch the miracle.
A supply of fresh milkweed would keep them busy for days. If I sat next to the box in the quiet of the day, I could hear the small sounds of caterpillars munching.
When they had filled their full of milkweed, one by one they found their own private spot and hung upside down. Magically, they chrysalized into beautiful green and gold jewel boxes.
They hung in silence. No more sounds of eating. If they weren’t so beautiful, they would be easy to forget.
Then one day they turned black, and it seemed that hope was gone, but for the slight movement. A twitch here and there. I would wonder if I was seeing things. Slowly, the blackened jewel box would open to reveal a new creature with wet crumpled wings.
The Monarch miracle was one I never tired of witnessing.
It all began with quiet eating. Strength for the journey.
Is that what is happening at the Manor? The quiet eating, the gradual withdrawal into a private world, and then, when hope seems gone, the emergence into a new world.
I think there is a great, unimaginable beauty in shedding this earthly skin for wings.
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