I finally had the chance to test out my new winter gear. With some snow and ice on the trail and temps in the teens, I ventured out for a run. Almost everything worked really well. My hands got a little hot and I ran much of the 6 miles with bare hands. The jacket shell I was wearing didn’t breathe well and my arms got sweaty but never once did I get cold. All in all it was a great run. I also got to hear something I haven’t heard in a long time: the silence of winter.
There is something unique about being away from civilization during the winter (Ok, the Gateway trail is not “away from civilization” but it’s the closest I can come within the metro). The silence after a new snow can really be powerful. Growing up near Duluth, I spent a lot of time as a kid out in the woods, and I loved being still and only hearing my breath on those cold, clear winter days. I got a bit of that on my run.
I also probably read too much Jack London as a kid. I was reminded of this passage from The White Silence. My run on the Gateway does not live up to the intensity of this passage but there is a connection:
“Nature has many tricks wherewith she convinces man of his finity-the ceaseless flow of the tides, the fury of the storm, the shock of the earthquake, the long roll of heaven’s artillery-but the most tremendous, the most stupefying of all, is the passive phase of the White Silence. All movement ceases, the sky clears, the heavens are of brass; the slightest whisper seems sacrilege, and man becomes timid, affrighted at the sound of his own voice. Sole speck of life journeying across the ghostly wastes of a dead world, he trembles at his audacity, realizes that his is a maggot’s life, nothing more. Strange thoughts arise, unsummoned, and the mystery of all things strives for utterance. And the fear of death, of God, of the universe, comes over him-the hope of the Resurrection and the Life, the yearning for immortality, the vain striving of the imprisoned essence-it is then, if ever, man walks alone with God.”
If the noise and business of daily life is a sickness that keeps us from being alone with God, a “white silence” moment is a remedy.
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2 thoughts on “The White Silence”
When we went cross-country skiing with our girls many years ago, we liked to ski at Banning State Park. We would ski way out onto the trail, stop, be still and “listen to the quiet”. We loved that part of our adventure.
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Wow, I love that.