the noise and the silence

I knew I needed to blog, and with it being such a nice night, took the dog on a walk for inspiration. We headed towards the Huckleberry Trail as the sun was setting over Lane Stadium. As we approached the bridge that crosses over Southgate Drive, and without a moment’s haste, my dog immediately tugged me down the stairs onto a new path that would take us towards campus and what was now a glowing football stadium against the setting sun.

As we approached, I noticed one of the gates was open. I began to think of those mornings when I rowed for the Virginia Tech Crew team during my undergraduate years. One morning a week we would find this same gate open at 4am, for us to climb the stadium steps for a couple hours until sun rise. These moments were breathtaking, not only because of the physical challenge, but because of the occasional silence between the padding of sneaker to cement and the heavy breathing of exhaustion. For this to happen on these mornings in a place that is typically very noisy, is a very beautiful thing.

Tonight is not unlike those mornings. This time, however, me and the dog walk through the gate and sit on one of the steps. In complete silence, we watch the sun fall softly on the field. It’s so much smaller than you think–the field, the stadium as a whole. Without the typical crowd, the space seems minuscule and almost meaningless.

This reminded me of when I visited my high school some time ago. I walked into my favorite teacher’s history classroom and was immediately surprised by the silence. What noise used to fill this room! It was always in a manner of learning, whether in group projects or one of Mr. Marra’s demonstrations about life. We filled this space with so much meaning. Now, with just a bunch of empty desks, history posters on the walls, some linoleum tiles and fluorescent lighting, the appeal from the past diminishes a bit. However, the green chalkboard has only recently had an eraser to it and I can see the remains of Mr. Marra’s discussion that day. Meaningful noise happened in this classroom today. Yet, this silence also becomes meaningful as I recall the memories of such a profound and influential time of my life.

As I sit here in Lane, I am only a month from finishing my graduate work at Virginia Tech. I am happy for the quiet.

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