|The Sound and The Silence|
December 7, 2022 / Estelle Omotayo
I wandered too far.
I searched fruitlessly for sleep in a night unyielding, unmoving. My fingers twisted the suffocating sheets, ordinarily safe but now providing no purchase or peace, and the walls bore down on me.
Like an untethered balloon, I feared slipping away, becoming lost in an alien landscape filled with shadows running and dancing just out of sight. Usually a serene kind of quiet, I languished in the sonic void as it choked me.
So I left. While college night-roaming is never completely safe, I encountered no one on my jaunt—a grave kind of loneliness. At that point, any presence would’ve been welcomed, but my only companions were the crickets’ blind chirps.
In the emptiest hours, the seeds of fear that chased me from the bed grew like weeds. The gray concrete paths remained unrecognizable without daytime’s teeming scenery, replaced by a ghostly stillness. Normally, I would return to bed at the first sign of exhaustion, but adrenaline kept me shuffling forward. I strolled through the labyrinthine streets until I couldn’t remember the way back. Darkness seemed to swallow my whispered pleas, a black-hole consuming the light of breaking stars.
Yet, my prayers fell on wakeful ears.
The divine answered, and a voice like dawn split open the night.
Wincing at the bleach bright numbers on my phone, I checked the time. 2:22: the repeating angel number that means everything is going to be alright.
The void had shouted back.
In those days, the veil hanging between heaven and myself thinned.
I sorely lacked interaction my freshman year of college. Long before escaping to the green hills and safe lakeshores of Austin, I wilted in College Station. I arrived as someone who required intimacy to survive—connection sustained me. Without it, the world was strange, and the silence as frightening as an unfamiliar face, dangerous in its mystery.
Before I began to talk with the divine, there was little conversation at all. Yet out of the quiet came a music, intricate and sweeping.
I remember a dream I once had, on the first night of May.
In sleep, I attended church, and a chorus of people sang sweeter than angels of a light that refused to hide. Doves held vigil in my bedroom as thunder rumbled above. As a storm crashed in on the horizon, I watched the world from a highway overpass and thought of change. A bolt of lightning struck the road, and I awoke breathless.
The time was 3:33, the angel number that means heaven is watching.
As I paid more and more attention, God took on a form I recognized. Whether storm or rainbow, butterfly or bee, everything was holy. Here, the ordinary and the extraordinary became one. By signs and portents, omens and answers, I discerned the universe, hearing its voice through all physical manifestations; I achieved symbiosis with the cosmos.
In Exodus 3:14, God said unto Moses, “I am that I am.”
Through a burning bush, one of the Bible’s richest and most recognizable occurrences of heaven merging with the mundane, he said unto Moses that he was the fact of interbeing itself, that he is present in all changes and surrendering of separate selfhood. That connection is the highest symbiosis, when truth becomes one’s entire existence.
Beyond numerology or nature, synchronicity, the experience of spiritual coincidences, occurs in another form: geometry. The practice of the sacred geometric mandala is not an exercise in memorizing symbols, but in perception, an artistic meditation that represents the world around oneself as a sacred interconnected reality. The patterns embodied our boundless conversation—a transcendence of the binary between the divine and the profane.
In those days, I listened more than I spoke. The universe appeared in its own orchestrated timing, taking care of me as needed. For no gain did I engage, but as a participant in the divine order of nature; a give-and-take balanced on open surrender.
As all angels do, I fell from grace. Not for pride unyielding as iron, but fear, a desperation much harder to shake.
For so long, I had been alone with my own voice as the only sound. A larger harmony was anathema to the emptiness that, no matter how unwelcome, I inadvertently adjusted to. Paranoid, I worried that it was my reflection I saw, not a cosmic language behind selfhood. Distrust crept in, sinister as a spider, covering my ears with crooked fingers so I doubted everything I heard.
But the patterns could not be unlearned, and the signs demanded to be seen.
In response, I dug deeper, begging for more and more proof, bending the universe to my will. To assuage my worry, I attributed meaning to the symbols. instead of perceiving their inherent beauty. I became my own prophet, obsessed with an echo, refracting light instead of receiving it.
By the time I drifted home, finally released from obligation and tedium, the sun had already set, leaving the exhausted world a dusky blue. The day followed a series of difficult weeks plagued by busyness and clamor. Every task I failed at, every friend I ignored, and every dream turned nightmare haunted me.
I stood on my balcony, a small figure in a vast sky, and asked the universe for a sign. Doves—to show that everything was going to be alright. That I would be able to handle my life with grace.
Across the street, a pigeon landed on the telephone wire. Close enough. ■
By: Estelle Omotayo
Layout: Camille Chuduc
Layout: Camille Chuduc
View the full spread as it appeared in Issue No. 19 here.