It’s about one in the afternoon when I climb the mine. It’s a wintry day, and not wanting to trek through the snow uphill, I take the long way up through the southwest path. The crisp air gently brushes my cheeks, and I pull my sweatshirt hood up to keep in a little more warmth. I pick up a handful of fresh snow, pack it into a little ball, and take a bite. My mouth tingles with a pleasant chill as the crystals dissolve from ice to water.
My walk around the mine is quite typical. I am the only human there and, save for the few birds that chirp in the bramble and the sleeping green buds on the trees, I am alone. As I wind clockwise around the summit, I notice that only one other person has been to visit since the last snowfall. I wonder what brought them to Merry Christmas Mine Hill. Were they, like me, looking for a moment of respite from the daily demands of work and chores? If so, they don’t appear to have had much time to decompress, as their footprints quickly descend back towards the trail down the hill. Where the human prints disappear, rabbit tracks begin, and I imagine that the open sky above poses less of a picturesque reprieve for rabbits than it does for humans.
I slowly amble to the far side of the hill, the one that abuts highway 23. As I do so, I notice a growing dis-ease in my stomach; a low growl of anxious overwhelm churns somewhere deep. “What’s going on? Where’s this coming from?” I wonder. I stop my walk and bring my senses back to my body. I notice the smell of the hovering winter air again; I feel the playful nip of the cold against my fingers; and…ah yes, there it is…I hear the sloshing woosh of cars descending the hill into town. I am alone on the mine, and I am witness to a symphony of industry.
In the stillness, I close my eyes and pause to ask myself, “When was the last time Merry Christmas Mine heard silence…? When was the last time that I witnessed and appreciated my own silence…? What happens when the world erupts in noiselessness?” As if in answer to my questions, the world falls quiet around me. There are no more vehicles speeding down the road, no sounds of city life off in the horizon. There is just me, the mine, and what feels like a slow, low heartbeat that runs between us.
Without even a thought to chatter in my mind, I open my eyes and for the first time hear the landscape around me. I stand on the east side of the hill, looking out over its top. The ground swells, almost womb like, and I notice the residual shoots of prairie grass poking out of the snow like hair. I smile as I recognize the sight, as I hear what the earth is saying to me: I stand before a mons pubis, and see the path reaching down from both sides forms a cleft where I have stopped.
I realize that I stand on sacred ground at that moment. I am before the caldera of the Infinite. The macrocosm greets me, manifesting in this world of microcosmic form. I hear the connection between me and the earth, she who was the first goddess and who shall be the last we ever know. And all of this hearing has no sound; it is the silent abundance of presence.
So, what happens when the world erupts in noiselessness? We just may hear the Infinite.