Noise and Silence – Greece – July 2017

August 9, 2017

sunset forest kissos july 17

Saturday night there was a huge Greek wedding here in Kissos village. We are in tents on a garden terrace yards away from the village platia; every night, deep into the cooler dark hours, sleep is accompanied by people chatting over honey tsiparo (local liqueur), music, children laughing, dogs barking, cats fighting, crickets purring. Sometimes guttural chanting rising from the ancient church. It is a theatre of surround sound that after ten weeks feels as natural as my own skin; miraculously we slumber through its landscape. But Saturday night was different; it was a wedding and for Greeks it’s a finger up, stuff you, to tip toeing around; it’s time to celebrate full throttle. Unapologetically greek music full of drama, nostalgia, passion, followed by synthesized heavy-bass dance pop, trashed and thrashed through the mountain, breaking through the stars, smothering every other sound, way beyond the dawn. So at 3am I rose bewildered like a sleep walker, picked up my sleeping bag, and stumbled my way onto the pitch black forest path. The darker it got, the more the quietness enveloped the noise, layer by layer. I realised that rather than the clatter disturbing the silence, it was the other way round; its like these noiseless hands were reaching further and further into the hubbub, hushing it to a whispering lullaby. And when I felt fully enwrapped by its touch, I lay relieved on the forest floor. Sunk in under a tree on the side of this mountain teeming with every imaginable form of life, its breath and sound rising and falling from palpable stillness, simplicity. Against this backdrop, the raging party, the marriage in the square was suddenly for me profoundly sacred, full of fecundity and folklore; humanity, sweetness and potential. I fell into dreams injected by life’s longing to know and express its essence, extraordinary. And then this was the view I woke up to, with the words of this poem. It’s true; interruption can come to us in the form of a truth; the shape of our silence may have grown too small for us; through disturbance we might wake up to a horizon that can really contain what we are growing in to, what we are called to gift to the world… “What you can plan is too small for you to live… What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough for the vitality hidden in your sleep.”


In that first
hardly noticed
in which you wake,
coming back
to this life
from the other
more secret,
and frighteningly
where everything
there is a small
into the new day
that closes
the moment
you begin your plans.

What you can plan
is too small
for you to live.

What you can live
will make plans
for the vitality
hidden in your sleep.

To become human
is to become visible
while carrying
what is hidden
as a gift to others.

To remember
the other world
in this world
is to live in your
true inheritance.

You are not
a troubled guest
on this earth,
you are not
an accident
amidst other accidents
you were invited
from another and greater
than the one
from which
you have just emerged.

Now, looking through
the slanting light
of the morning
window toward
the mountain
of everything
that can be,
what urgency
calls you to your
one love?

What shape waits
in the seed of you
to grow and spread
its branches
against a future sky?

Is it waiting
in the fertile waters,?
In the trees
beyond the house?
In the life
you can imagine
for yourself?

In the open
and lovely
white page
on the waiting desk?

David Whyte

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