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Everyday Spirituality

Read “Giving Voice to Quiet,” from The Daily Star newspaper, Oneonta, NY

Store-bought frozen chicken-nuggets and tater-tots. That was our Thanksgiving dinner, year 2000.

Carrying the bagged meal, my husband, our two daughters, and I mucked our way through deep snow to a cabin in the Blue Mountains in Oregon. Our decision wasn’t a protest to a gluttonous holiday meal. We weren’t broke. We weren’t mad at the extended family.

We needed quiet time together.

After starting a fire in the Franklin woodstove, we watched the crackling flames. We went for a walk and listened to the light wind blow through the trees. We talked about what we saw and heard.

When it neared time to eat, preparation wasn’t too intense. Directions: Set oven at 425 degrees, place frozen nuggets and tots on pan. Bake 40 minutes.

After dinner, we washed the plates and utensils and cleaned up after ourselves.

Did we have a long family discussion? No.

Did I give one of my “mom lectures”? No.

Did we have any screens or devices with us? Absolutely not.

We gave voice to quiet, accompanied by giving thanks. It was great.

Whether Thanksgiving this year is simple or hectic, we can follow the recipe given in Ecclesiastes, “Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.” (Ecclesiastes 4:6)

Quietness doesn’t come easy. For help, I’ve taken the approach of prayer, found in the Bible. I learn from Christ Jesus, who rose early in the morning, “and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”

But I remind myself that quiet and desolate silence are not equal.

Spiritual leaders admired today didn’t, and don’t, linger in desolate silent places. They were, and are busy, actively working, uplifting, feeding, and sharing good ideas that give voice to quietness.

Researchers find a correlation between quiet and the noise in our head.

Effects of internal quietness and noise were discovered accidently by Dr. Luciano Bernardi, professor at the University of Pavia in Italy, when he studied how the brain reacts to different types of music. Data showed that the two-minute silent pauses between the different types of music proved more relaxing on the brain than the relaxing music, as reported in the journal “Heart” in 2006.

I ask myself, can I hear harmony, instead of music? Can I see beauty, instead of food? Can I feel thanksgiving, instead of feel pressured? I’m willing to give it a try because I’ve tasted its benefits in the past.

Whether this year’s Thanksgiving celebration involves a trek to a remote cabin or wearing noise-cancelling-headphones during the celebration, look for the special guest of quiet. And listen up, because quiet can speak volumes.

Bio: Cheryl Petersen, of Delhi, is a freelance religion writer. Her books include “I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter,” and, “from science & religion to God: A narrative of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health.”

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