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This week Professor Mona Siddiqui, Assistant Principal Religion and Society, reflects on stillness and quiet.

Like many of us finding ways to get fresh air safely, I’ve been going for regular walks on my own.  I’m lucky to live next to a golf course and am surrounded by fields and farmland which makes walking a real pleasure in the beautiful spring sunshine. Yet I’ve also noticed how still everything seems. Even though I can hear the dawn chorus far more clearly and the voices of the early morning dog walkers in the distance, as the day goes on, a quiet seems to settle around me.

A few days ago, on my walk, I observed the calm of the grazing farm animals, the poignant peace of a small graveyard and the quiet ripple on the canal waters. It seemed like all this stillness was simply concealing our current human anxieties. But as I walked I realized this was not stillness, it was the rhythm and energy of the natural world that I hardly noticed any longer.  We humans have made our lives all about movement, about distraction and external stimulus, where we live with noise all around us.  Today we are missing the noise of daily life, a noise which we deem as normal. Yet, even as I hope and pray that we survive this global pandemic and that we are able to return to some aspects of our former lives, something in me has changed. There is a joy to desiring less, there is a power to stillness and maybe reconnecting ourselves to something other than the material, may eventually create a different but gentler normal.