Patient Oak

There are times when the wisest option is to say nothing. There are times when we can feel we don’t trust ourselves to say anything. There are times of silence because any expression of the current situation seems inadequate or insincere. There are times of silence because of sorrow. There are times of silence because there is nothing left to say. There are times of silence, because what has yet to be birthed is still being formed. There are times of silence when we wait.

The Patient Oak
We marvel at a large old oak tree. We enjoy its twisted branches and complicated shapes. We gasp at its age. “Oaks of Righteousness” – says Isaiah and we hear cries of “yes” and “amen!” But our patience or lack thereof betrays us. We wait only as long as a shoot takes to grow, or a sapling. Weeds spring up quickly, Leylandii shoot up endlessly with little delay. But a well formed oak takes time.

Porous and permeable and mute
Annie Dillard writes this about the acorn in her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (an extended reflection on the nature situated near her home):

“Now the twin leaves of the seeding chestnut oak on the carvin’s cove path have dried, dropped, and blown; the acorn itself is shrunk and sere. But there sheath of the stem holds water and the white root still delicately sucks, porous and permeable and mute. The death of self of which the great writers speak is no violent act. It is merely the joining of the great rock heart of the world in its roll. It is merely the slow cessation of the wills’s sprints and the intellect’s chatter: it is waiting like a hollow bell with stilled tongue. Fuge, tace, quiesce.* The waiting itself is the thing.”

* — ‘fuge, tace, quiesce’ — ‘flee, be silent, rest’

Untitled (a poem)

I go to the garden
sit quietly on a park bench
an acorn rooting in soil
permeable and mute.

(J. Norridge 26/08/10)

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