With apologies to Lisa Scottoline, I think the cloistered nuns had it right: silence is the way to the soul.
And yes, I do read Lisa Scottoline's column in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sundays. It started because my wife reads it and always has something funny to say after reading it. So I took a look, just to see. And I have been taking a look ever since, just to see. I find that Scottoline speaks a language that is pretty universal, transcending gender, especially when talking about parenthood. She may be a little off the mark sometimes when I think that she fails to understand the deeper meanings of maleness, but her column is called "Chick Wit," so I give her a pass on those times. And perhaps, at those times, I am being too sensitive.
I think, however, she missed the mark this weekend for a different reason. Scottoline started off right on the mark as she described the adult child flying from the nest. I was right with her. Until the end. You'll have to take a look at the column but I just want to focus on the last line. It was one of those lines that people read and then shake their heads knowingly and approvingly while they stroke their chins, yet really do not understand the deeper meaning. Here it is: "...with apologies to my cloistered sisters, I think that voice, not silence, is the sound of the human soul." Maybe it's because she mentions soul, always a dangerous thing for a writer, who risks being called cliche at its use. But she pulled it off because she was quoting the cloistered nuns.
No, I don't accuse Scottoline of cliche. I do think that she sold silence a little short, however. Sometimes silence is a louder voice than words. Sometimes silence reminds us that we control so little in this life. And when we get to a point in our lives, where we think that we should know how to handle any situation but where we do not know what to do or what to say or how to handle that situation, we are given a choice. Speak--and therefore try to impact the situation. Keep silent--and try to accept the situation. To be sure there are times that we need to speak and impact our world. Justice depends on it. But sometimes we need to just be silent... and accept, quietly if painfully. The first is the currency of our world and is good. The latter is the currency of our souls where life really happens, I believe, as do Scottoline's cloistered sisters. And when our children leave, tears are bountiful and no words will help us to understand or control. But quiet acceptance will give us insights never dreamed of. And it is then that we come to accept that our children do grow into adults and that is just plain cool.
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