I occasionally have an “oldies” Pandora station playing while I work. Yesterday was such a day, and the familiar strains of a Simon and Garfunkel classic began to fill the room.

Hello darkness, my old friend…I’ve come to talk with you again…

I stopped typing and just listened, allowing myself to sink into the song as the verses continued.

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

I felt myself swept up into these “restless dreams,” following the man along the cobblestone walkway.

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

With sudden discomfort, I felt as though I was no longer a quiet spectator, but one of the “ten thousand,” understanding, with startling clarity, that I’d been “talking without speaking,” and “hearing without listening.” My head dropped as I thought about all the “songs I had written that voices never share.”  And then, breaking my revery…

“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence

“No!” I thought, “I hear Your words! I do!” Frantically, I looked around, crying, “Listen to Him! Grab His arms!”

But it was too little, too late. I looked around in horror as I watched what happened next…

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls”
And whispered in the sounds of silence

Relieved that it was only a song, it was still with an unsettled spirit that I returned from that dreamland and back to reality at the lyric’s end.

I’d been left to ponder how effective the use of my “voice” is in a world that is bowing to the words of its own “prophets.” Do I boldly speak the only thing that will split wide open the “silence” of our global cacophony?

Or am I, too often, one who isn’t “daring to disturb” the sounds of silence, at all?