Fierce beauty lies in silence

Published 8:10 pm Friday, June 5, 2020

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An editorial cartoon stuck home with me this week. The Statue of Liberty stood sadly viewing the chaos in today’s world and that’s exactly how I feel. Sad.

But, then, I read a post by Kiran Singh Sirah, president of the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee, and I felt not quite so sad and a bit more hopeful. So, I thought I would share his story of the beauty that exists … even today.

He recalls an old folk story told by his beloved teacher in childhood, about a noisy kingdom that fell silent on one fateful day. “It was the tale of a prince whose father asked him what he’d like for his 21st birthday,” Sirah said.

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The prince said he’d like everyone from every corner of the kingdom to join him in making the biggest noise the kingdom had ever heard. When the day came, people traveled to the celebration from near and far. They brought their noisy carts, their noisy friends, and their noisy selves. Everyone was thrilled at the prospect of coming together to make such a noise for the prince’s birthday.

As the hand on the big palace tower was about to turn to twelve, the prince, and his father, the king, looked out from their balcony on a sea of people that stretched as far as the eye could see. But when a gong was struck (that was the signal to start making noise), there was complete silence. No one wanted to miss out on hearing the loudest noise in history, and how could you hear it if you yourself were making noise?

In that moment, for the first time in the history of this naturally noisy kingdom, people heard the soft sounds of birds singing, streams flowing, and even the whistle of the wind gently blowing leaves on the trees. It was delightful. There was a fierce beauty in it.

…. That fierce beauty is still there. If only we would stop the noise and listen.