The power of the in-articulated pause
having two or more sections connected by a flexible joint. (hinged, jointed, segmented)
(of an idea or feeling) expressed; put into words. (“the lack of a clearly articulated policy”)
Madeleine L’Engle has called this to my attention in A Circle of Quiet. Our our speech has been infiltrated by articulations in our pauses. Expressions placed where there should be silences. You know, like…
Irritating isn’t it? The comma, colon, semi-colon, period. They’ve been replaced by words without meaning. Filler words. It’s a way of speaking. L’Engle supposes it is because we are afraid of silence. Perhaps. But in today’s communication, I think it has more to do with the…wait, there’s more. It’s not the quiet we’re afraid of, it’s the interruption. Or worse, the re-direction. My ‘you know’ is to be sure you are coming along with me to my next speaking destination.
Otherwise I run the risk of losing the floor. It becomes someone else’s turn. I don’t want to give up my turn. Let’s just make this continuous jabber. One long string of meandering, without destination. Irritating isn’t it?
But some of us need that pause. Not just to catch our breath, but to change direction, re-route, re-position. To transition to the next movement. And that’s what captures me.
I see the conductor standing before the orchestra, baton vigorously gesticulating, first to the violins, then to the percussion, on to the woodwinds and brass. He slows as the rhythm slows and moves as the movement demands. As they strike their final chord, his baton stills.
But wait! It is not the final chord. There is more. His baton is still poised, elbow high, body taut and erect. This pause is intended. It is meant for this moment. To prepare us for the next movement of the piece. “Wait for it,” his baton says.
No one speaks. No one applauds. Everyone draws in breath. It is an articulated pause.
The greatest music of all happens in the pause. In the silence between movements. Oh, what music was written between the Crucifixus and the Resurrexus in Bach’s Mass in B Minor, writes L’Engle. What writing can mankind produce in the pause between?
What is lost when we fill this? with mere words.