I have a small orchid forest here in my studio sunroom. The orchids seem quite happy atop a shelf on my desk where they can have window light diffused by blinds. I keep this section of blinds closed during the brightest part of the day so as not to scorch them, especially in summer, when the sun’s rays hit directly on that corner of the house. So you can imagine my surprise and delight, when I recently opened the blinds and saw that one of my orchids had grown a separate branch filled with a profusion of orchid flowers blooming happily behind the blinds!
Orchids are fascinating to me! They have roots which only need a little bit of water every week or so, but they also have aerial roots which take in humidity from the air. I am by no means an expert in caring for orchids, nor do I consider myself a green thumb, which makes the ongoing blooming of these rather exotic plants even more mysterious to me. All three of my orchids were given to me, and the fact they haven’t died on my watch is truly remarkable. I do have a fourth, rather poorly looking orchid that was brought to my home in hopes that I might be able to resurrect it, or that it would spontaneously begin to show signs of life just being around the other thriving orchids. Alas, it has not.
But I digress.
I continue to read with slow relish, Kate Davies’ book Wheesht. I have finally arrived at the chapter titled the same, and am now understanding the full meaning of this Scottish word, or phrase…to “haud your wheesht”…Be Quiet, or more directly, Shut Up! Kate begins the chapter with an intriguing quote by T. S. Eliot in Burnt Norton:
“At the still point of the turning world…there the dance is.” pg. 93
Silence and stillness – a pulling back from the never ending to-do’s; dropping away from the cacophony of our loud world; even stopping our own creative whirling dervish – offer us significant benefits to our whole being if we are willing to “haud our wheesht.” Among Kate’s own eloquent call to silence is a quote by Thomas Carlisle:
…”silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together, that at length they may emerge, full formed and majestic into the daylight of life.” (pg. 96).
I can’t help but think of the orchids. I watch with great anticipation the seemingly spent stems that eventually start to show signs of life. I resist over-watering. I whisper to the stems and light green buds forming along their length. I make sure the stems are supported as the weight of the glorious blooms threaten to snap the stem off. I keep the blinds closed in order to keep too much sun from singeing the delicate flowers. And then one overcast day, quite nonchalantly, I open the blinds and what do I see but a long new stem filled with blossoms having grown silently all the while, completely unbeknownst to me!
Without any attention from me, the stem found its way toward the light that has not harmed it at all. The stem found the blind itself to be its support and grew along its length, shooting out buds that had blossomed without my knowledge, without fanfare, silently emerging, full formed and majestic into the daylight!
There have been many places in life of late that have felt quite blind, as if I am cut off from a knowing or any certainty about how to proceed, how to mend, how to move forward in particular circumstances. It has felt like the blinds have been closed and I’m left to navigate each day with a particular silence that is disconcerting, yet not entirely unpleasant. This silence is actually becoming a friend. I’m learning to trust it, to go deeper into it, allowing myself to feel the unease of not knowing what I’m to be doing, or what’s happening, if anything, on the other side of the blinds.
It is heartening to think of a day to come when the blinds will be open again and I will see what’s been blooming back there all along. Staying with silence, learning to listen, grants me the perspective Kate describes. “Silence, then, is not void, but articulate.” The orchid blooming behind the blinds is a beautiful picture of Kate’s words:
“Invention flourishes in silence. Silence provides the space in which our aghast imaginations might finally find some room to breathe.” pg. 94.
Wishing you “room to breathe” and deep silence that allows for flourishing in the garden of your imagination. ❤️