Day 9: making a joyful silence

We’ve been joking for over a week now that we have not had quite enough suffering on the road to qualify us as proper Pilgrims. Sure, we’ve earned our fair share of blisters, but we’ve mostly enjoyed abundant hospitality from our hosts and potluck cooks, from the land and fair weather, from one another and the Spirit. We’ve had snow, but still no rain (though I may have just jinxed us). So on some level, today’s wintery conditions were a welcome challenge.

image (5)
Pilgrims shuffling cautiously along as we begin our trek. Michelle is happy enough about it.

Our day started with Shira sliding down the ice. As the group set out for the day, we brandished the ski poles from Windblown to traverse down the hill towards New Ipswich and then marched through a slushy roadside for hours. In the bite of the bitter wind, we all wore our heavy coats, and several of our pilgrims draped themselves in every layer they had brought.

Following lunch, Bruce invited us into an hour of intention and silence as we began our walk from Greenville to Milford. So we set off through the ice-caked forests of New Hampshire country roads in a contemplative mode, pausing to watch a stream, walking lost in thought, observing the swaying branches of frosted hemlocks.

Then, suddenly, Meg and Leah ran forward with our banner flapping above their heads, laughing. And, the next thing I knew, madness had broken it out within the silence. Erratic footsteps sounded on the ice and bursts of laughter ballooned and popped. Pilgrims wrapped themselves or blinded each other with the banner. Flapping our arms and charging at each another like bulls, spinning and snowboard sliding on the treaded ice, skipping with arms linked and mercilessly scooping others into our chain, we delighted in our silliness. For what must have been a full half hour, laughter echoed in the trees as we pranced and pantomimed.

Charles spoke of this moment later as, “tapping into that seven-year-old in all of us.” Bruce likened it to the jubilant “wheee!” of the streams and the pines. Our play was vital and necessary, and I doubt we would have found this space had the weather conditions been kinder to us, the going easier. Our clowning transformed the dreariness of a cold afternoon, inflating a home for absurdity in the face of winter and silence.

Maybe laughter can help us skate over the quagmire of despair, and into hopefulness. Maybe it’s just healthy not to be serious all the time.

I don’t want to risk over-interpreting this one.

But I am reflecting now on how joyous buffoonery can be a spiritual practice just as much as any solemn ritual, equally an excursion into sacred time, breaking us out of the ordinary and freeing us from our conditioning, ultimately helping us to see just a little differently.

2 thoughts on “Day 9: making a joyful silence

  1. Yes! Laughter can be an amazing meditation. Back in 1979, when I was involved in a transformative process in an ashram in India for several months, there were times when “laughing meditation” was one of the ways we would start the day. A bell was wrung for us to wake up, and while still all lying where we slept, we were guided to simply start laughing. Well, not happy about being woken up at 6 AM or, at least not in a mood to laugh, someone would start out by saying “HA” or “Ha-ha” in a grumpy mood and soon be joined by a few other grumpy “Ha-has”. But somehow, fairly soon someone would actually start to laugh followed by one or two others quietly giggling. And invariably, it would begin to “catch”….like a fire….until it grew into laughing mayhem where you could hardly catch your breath….because it felt so completely silly that everyone was absolutely breaking up with laughter over NOTHING! And it could go on for 10 minutes or so, tears of laughter running down our cheeks. A great way to start a day! Have a great, foggy, rainy day!

    Date: Fri, 10 Apr 2015 05:24:36 +0000 To:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s