This week, we are blessed with a “guest blogger,” my twin brother, Christopher Celichowski. Chris and his wife Bonnie live in the Twin Cities area. They’ve been married 28 years and have four adult children. As you will see, he is not only and excellent writer but also one who makes the time to nurture his inner life. This post originally appeared on his LinkedIn page.—JC
It’s almost become trite to observe the pervasive, overwhelming impact of technology and social media on our lives. I acknowledge irony in making these observations on a social media platform. I’m old enough to remember a world before smartphones, Facebook, the internet, personal computers, digital watches and even desktop calculators. I’m young enough to acknowledge the many benefits of these things and observe the good they’ve brought and wrought. And yet, these benefits bring an almost incessant noise. Never have we needed silence more than today.
We bathe in a sensory cacophony, but we become clean in solitude. Humans from religious leaders to philosophers to fictional superheroes have found the benefits of stillness. The Buddha went on a quest, Moses spent many days on Mount Sinai and Jesus spent 40 days and nights in the desert. Thoreau relished his days at Walden Pond. Superman retreats to his Fortress of Solitude. Researchers have proven the many benefits of quiet and isolation, even if just for a few minutes. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/workplace-award/the-mental-benefits-of-the-sound-of-silence/article35759363/
A few weeks ago, after a long day in court, I stopped by the Cathedral of St. Paul. I just felt I needed a few minutes of solitude and quiet. As I walked in and took my seat in a well-worn pew in the middle of the vast openness of the sanctuary, I noticed a few young people and families walking around and heard their dim, hushed voices. An older couple sat behind me with earbuds, apparently enjoying a history of the Cathedral. I closed my eyes and took some deep, rhythmic breaths. In minutes I felt refreshed. When I got in my car, I pulled out a notebook and began writing. In just a few minutes, I completed a rough draft of this poem:
SITTING IN THE CATHEDRAL
A sturdy wooden pew supports me
empty solitude fills my soul
Mute angels and saints observe me
shrinking, yet still growing whole.
Can strong echoes of silence,
musty scents of offerings past,
sunlight poured through colored panes
still billow the sails of my inner mast?
I confess coming here fewer days
than are right, I know, than I should;
for as I sail through life’s maelstrom
a moment in church, still, does much good.
I find stillness and solitude running alone on trails, on a walk through my neighborhood or in meditation. But I’ve also found them sitting in an airport, riding the bus or even on a spin-bike in my health club. How do you find yours?
Though silence and seclusion are free, many of us refuse to take them. At what cost? If we want to enjoy the best life can give, we must take – quiet…moments… alone.