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Seeing Silence

This work is a celebration of silence. When I am in nature, it usually takes a while, (it can be hours or days sometimes) for the crazy whirl of thoughts to quiet themselves. When I become aware that the buzz of thoughts has fallen away, what remains is a spacious, quiet and easy joy. It is a joy with no words; it just is.

What also becomes obvious to me is the all-inclusiveness of being out in nature. As a photographer we often dwell on the visual tableaus before us, but it is so much more than an experience of the eyes alone. Our whole body is immersed in a 360-degree encounter that includes the air, the wind, the smell, textures, the vagaries of temperature, light and shadow, and sounds, however delicate or intense. We are absorbed then, and our thoughts recede or disappear entirely. We are left with spacious silence.

Afterwards questions arise. What is the source of this silence? Does it come from inside myself or is it intrinsic to the wilderness I find myself in? It seems that I wouldn’t notice the silence around me if I wasn’t silent within myself. Is it then that the subject and object become one, the boundary between the two just a permeable transparency? Because sometimes the boundary disappears.

There are of course no answers to these questions. I have to remain content with the questions themselves and hold them close, like a Zen koan. Often my response is to write a short poem that evokes the experience of being immersed in such places as these.

In this series I chose to combine the visual encounter from an expanded view along with the poetic response in an intimate and hopeful conversation inviting others to recognize and honor the joy of Seeing Silence.

Jodie Hulden

Boulder to Boulder     the mountains whisper     down to the smallest stoneAppearing, disappearing     wave upon wave     breathing an oceanOver the ridgelines     following footpaths     to a soundless seaKeeping watch     the ancient juniper holds close to the mountain     and drinks in the skyThis old oak     time and again a sanctuary     of shade and silenceSea of Dunes     only the sound of footsteps     disturbs the vast silenceUnknowable     the river hides a thousand secret shelters     on the far sideIn the midst of trees     it is enough to simply stop     and see the silenceAlmost to close to notice     the small quiet beauty     at my feetWalking closer     silence deepens     until I am no more