Stillness, I suppose, for the sake of clarity.
I was going to go with silence, but then I thought, no, what I really want is more than silence. To be still is to be silent, isn’t it? And a little more.
It has an edge of expectation. A quality of something that is going to happen any second and I must listen intently for it.
It reminds me of being a kid and hiding from my parents. I’d squeeze into the corner behind a bookcase and read. I wasn’t hiding from anything in particular, and I wasn’t up to no good. In fact, I was just looking for a quiet and cozy place to read. I still like the idea of a little retreat no one knows about.
My favorite time was in the late afternoon on Saturdays. I probably had to pick up my room and do a chore or two, and then I’d retire to my corner. The late afternoon sun was just enough, and everyone was winding down, so there was no noise in the house.
Stillness. Quiet. But there was something coming. My mom was moving toward the kitchen to start dinner. There was an air of transition. The day was ending, and night was coming, but not yet.
And I had to strain to hear anything outside my little space.
Things haven’t changed much decades later. I found a different little retreat: the chapel at my parish. It’s small, and I can sit in any pew and still watch the light and shadows dance across the floor like I did so many years ago behind my book case. It’s quiet there, unless the maintenance guys are doing their thing. If I’m lucky, I can sit in silence without the overhead lights on…and if I stay undisturbed just long enough, I find myself straining expectantly, listening for the elusive something that’s meant for me.