What sounds are heard around God’s House?
First, utter silence, silence within silence. Then
more silent still.
A silence that sits deep under the Throne of God –
all other silence surrounds it and
Every other silence partakes of that silence. Silence in
eyes, silence in tongues, silence in the
womb, the silence of death.
The Ka’ba sits in the
shaft of that silence from the height of heaven,
and generates silence.
Then, just around this great circle of silence
the sound of an ocean, not of water or salt,
but of human longing, aswirl with
sound, slow roar, slow-motion crash of
surf, suspended animation of all
tremendous sounds in creation, the
exhalation of giant beasts, outbreath of
earth as God created caves and
sea depths and
Then more distinctly,
articulating what shines through both
silence and sound,
the Word of God,
that aural text that floats from the
Heart of Light into the hearts of mankind,
tongue-tripped into articulate words, formed and
filled with breath,
flowing like the sea, but from
sea-depths of meaning,
light to the eyes and
sweet relief to the heart.
Then out from that circle,
the sound of all human speech, words of
admonition, snatches of
conversation, starlight of
God’s Compassion sprinkled throughout it,
Turkish bursts, Arabic stutter, a child’s distant cry,
then roar again, sea-surf,
silence above all, and the
echo of that silence.
Then a phrase of Urdu, Afghani, Malay,
low rumble of
Qur’an recitation, pauses, people
looking around, metallic
clatter from far away, the
rhythmic supplications of a group of pilgrims
circling God’s House.
Then the click sound of a microphone in sonic superspace
Then words enveloped by the Word,
the Word enveloped in a roar,
the roar enveloped in silence,
the articulate silence of God, then
the silence of silence.
Then the echo of that silence.
Then the looking around.
12/26/95 (from Sparrow on the Prophet’s Tomb, The Ecstatic Exchange, 2009)