When even the sound of my steps on the wood is too loud,
I pause on the pier to stand and still
The brush of my hair against my ear
And turn my head slowly 
Over each of my shoulders
To find the pose that quiets the wind.
Then, finally, the silence.
Then, the listening.
I can hear outside of myself
The swans on the water that hiccup and coo,
The rowdy goose commune, still far enough away to soothe,
The waves lapping upon the poles like a kitten sips her milk.
Only then, though it is the cold and dull of winter,
And every glance is a different gray, and my fingers are bitten,
And the hearth and the kettle are a long way off and still unlit,
When the raindrops fall
And tumble through my eyelashes like tears,
I can hold out my hands and say, 
“Thank you.”

One day every month, my friends at Windrush house set aside an entire day for silence and solitude. These are the friends with whom I learn and work and cook and play, day after day, with whom I love to talk and holler and sing. For these precious hours, though, we scatter around the property for a pause from all of the noise, holing up in private rooms (the quick ones find the fireplaces), and stretching out for long walks on our flat Maryland country roads. In this quiet, I am learning to listen.

Finally, when the sun sets over the water and we return to speaking and laughter and lectures and stacks of books, I can hear outside of myself. It is only when all of my own noise dulls, and I am quicker to listen than to speak, that I can rightly honor the mystery and surprise that I uncover in these friends and our coursework.