Silence Is O.K.

Amy is three years old. She loves to stand by the window on rainy days and watch the rain fall. Two of her favorite books are The Umbrella and Rain Rain Rivers. "Come, Mommy," she'll say, noticing that it's raining outside. "Let's go watch the rain fall." I am also a lover of rain. On rainy days I often turn off the television and enjoy the pitter-patter of raindrops as I go about my chores. It is especially nice when Amy is with me. Our apartment in Berkeley, California has a large bay window which is the perfect spot for rain viewing. From this window we can look out on the street below and see all the things that make a rainy day special - umbrellas of different colors, the deep green of the trees, raindrops pattering against the windowpanes, water flowing down the hill in streams, and puddles that go splash when cars go by. We also love watching people under big umbrellas walking slowly along and people with neither coats nor umbrellas racing to their cars. In this way even the coldest, wettest, and dreariest days bring us endless amounts of fun and delight.

It is very difficult for us to do something like this when other people are around. Usually other people like noise. They either watch T.V., listen to music, or talk a lot. One of Amy's friends, a ten-year-old who lives next door, turns on our television the minute she comes to visit and insists on having it on even when she's not watching anything in particular. That's the way it is at her house. The T.V. is always on in the background.

I, on the other hand, am a lover of silence. I would like my daughter to know that even in this day and age silence is okay. People seem to have forgotten this.

Amy is learning. She talks, shouts, and sings as any three-year-old, but she now knows that there are times when to be silent is perfectly okay. For instance, "It's Mommy's zazen time," she'll say when she sees me turn off the tape recorder and dim the lights. She'll even help me set up my meditation spot in front of the fireplace. While I am sitting, she knows that she can either sit quietly beside me on a cushion of her own or play quietly in the same room. She usually sits for a few seconds before going to her stack of books and magazines. Sometimes she'll sit on my lap and chant along if I happen to be chanting. Sometimes my husband, Mike, brings a cushion and sits with us.

This period of calming and quieting, breathing and simply being, has become a wonderful part of our normally hectic lives. It has helped Amy, who is a very high-energy child, settle down at the day's end. It has also helped me, frayed and frazzled as I may be, regain the sense of peace and wholeness that somehow escaped me during the course of the day.

In my life some of the most precious times are the quiet moments that I enjoy with the people I love most. Thank goodness for silence!

Mary Beth Nakade Berkeley, California

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