Vol. II No. 23 12/1/2021
by Larry Ackerman
I love summer in Stockbridge with its cultural bustle, warm breezes, the chance to fire up the grill, and fly-fishing on the Housatonic. Yet every year, right about now, I look forward to the cold days ahead. Not to the cold, per se, but to what the cold brings — the gift of silence that comes with the snow that hushes the landscape, slowing my pace, and quieting my mind.
I recall a day last February, walking alone on Averic Road up to and then beyond the reservoir. Snow was falling vigorously. Large flakes landed on my hat, on my nose and eyelids, on my gloves and boots. Utter silence consumed me. If only for a moment, I felt like I'd hit the mute button on my life and allowed nothing but the sight of the trees, the ice-covered lake, the still, barely-visible gravel road, and the steam from my breath to occupy my senses. I felt like I'd walked into a snow globe, where everything was pristine. I could hear the silence perfectly, as though it were its own symphony.
I take solace in these moments. For me, they are moments of prayer. They allow me to find the stillness inside that I need to find myself and to simply to be myself, unencumbered by all of the distractions that surround us including — yes — all of the wonderful distractions that summer brings. As I ambled past the lake again on my way home, I glanced up and was struck by the vast, pewter-grey sky. It looked like a blanket that provided its own, particular kind of warmth; not so much heat, but certainly comfort. I stood still, allowing the snow to settle on my face, feeling the chill of each flake that would, an instant later, dissolve against my skin.
There is an expression, that silence is the first language of God. These words are attributed to the sixteenth century Christian mystic, St. John of the Cross. I believe these words, for where else could such beauty come from? That silence is the province of winter, especially, a winter in Stockbridge.
Photo: Jay Rhind