Preseason Episode 2 – The Spaciousness of Quiet


This week, enjoy a sneak peek of Faith, Fern & Compass Pro in a special preseason episode exploring the spiritual practice of silence in an age of noise and fury. In Preseason Episode 2 – The Spaciousness of Quiet, we explore the “unwanted sounds of everything we want” and why contemplative silence plays such an important role in cultivating a spiritual relationship with the natural world in an age of technological progress and digital distraction.

But first! We share some news updates about Faith, Fern & Compass as we draw ever closer to the official start of Season One! The free edition of the podcast is now available on iTunes, so remember to subscribe! We also share two discount codes for listeners who want to check out the Pro Podcast, which launches on May 2nd:

DUNBAR150 – Use this code to get FF&C Pro for only $5/month if you’re one of our first one hundred and fifty members to sign up!

Folks who can figure out our mystery discount code can snag a subscription for only $4/month!

These codes won’t work just yet, but you’ll be able to register soon!

We open our discussion of contemplative silence as a spiritual practice by exploring the complex problem of noise and the ways it affects us both psychologically, and physically. Drawing from Garret Keizer’s book, The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want, we delve into the ghostly “spiritualized” noise of modern machinery and what it says about our disconnection from our own bodies as sacred. Jeff also shares his linguistic insights into the etymologies of words like noise and quiet, and tells us in elaborate detail why some of them are actually kind of boring.

Next, we indulge in a bit of Eastern religion with excerpts from the Dao de Jing and bring it all the way back to the modern day with reflections from Leo Babauta and Anthony Strano on seeking spiritual quiet whether you’re a monk on retreat among the old valleys of Italy, or a dad of six kids just trying to make it to the next nap time. And Heather from the blog, Say the Trees Have Ears, shares a sweet story of small surprises and how sometimes we don’t always find what we expect.

Finally, Ali gets heavy with some heady philosophy and Adam Robbert celebrates the irreducible nature of depth (or was that the depths of nature?) in his essay on an Ecology of Mind. We give a shout-out to our friend Carl McColman, and tackle some of the new challenges that arise when we take silence seriously as a spiritual practice, including the problem of social justice that Carl explores in his recent column, “The Privilege of Silence.”

And just in case you’re not yet sated on the irony of dedicating an entire podcast episode to a discussion of silence, we close with a few moments of quiet — but wait! Did you hear something? Just the wind…

Join us next week for another episode of Faith, Fern & Compass!



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4 Responses to “Preseason Episode 2 – The Spaciousness of Quiet”

  1. Lupa says:

    One other book I would recommend is “One Square Inch of Silence” by Gordon Hempton. If you’ve ever heard nature recordings like birds, water, etc. there’s a very good chance this is the guy who made that recording–he’s travelled all over the world to find these sounds. At any rate, the book is about his quest to find places in the world where there are no manmade sounds (other than the human body)–no planes, far-off highways, etc. Practically, it’s because these can get picked up by his recording equipment, but spiritually and ecologically it’s because these places are exceedingly rare. The book tells how he went to many different places and finally found a spot on the Washington Peninsula–and left a one inch cube of stone there as a marker. It is an excellent read, and I was constantly reminded of it throughout this episode.

    • Alison Leigh Lilly says:

      Yes! That book is on my bookshelf in the to-read pile! I was able to pick it up for only a couple dollars when the Borders in Pittsburgh closed last year, and I’ve been meaning to read it ever since. (So many good books, so little time! ;)) I’m hoping eventually to teach a class on acoustic ecology in urban parks with the Seattle City Parks as part of my volunteer work with them, and that book is on my list for research. I’m really fascinated by the way cultures all over the world have approached rituals and spiritual practices of contemplative silence, and exploring how those traditions might inform our modern understanding of ecology. Really good stuff. I’m definitely going to have to bump that book up to the top of the pile. :)

  2. Heather says:

    I am WAY behind in listening to podcasts, but I recently listened to this one over at your old Dining With Druids site, and I was very surprised to discover that you had discussed one of my blog posts in your show. Thanks for that! The rest of the show was also great and filled with many intriguing points that I could spend hours pondering. My schedule doesn’t leave me much time for listening to podcasts, but I will try to find the time to listen to your great show more often.

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