Thursday Thirteen: Thoughts on Silence

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is the signature nonsense word of Mary Poppins, the Edwardian nanny who turns the Banks household upside down by infusing it with warmth, spirit, and imagination. Mary Poppins will have no truck with mean-spirited, bean-counting Mr. Banks and his misplaced priorities of punctuality and business over his young children. She sets the world right.

When Mr. Banks finally sees the light shed by Mary Poppins, he uses this word to silence his banker bosses, who are cheap to the point of being cruel and foolish even in their treatment of Banks's little boy. It is a word that silences all foolishness and frees Mr. Banks to see with crystal clarity the sheer beauty of being alive.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious rids the mind of foolishness at the same time it silences the person to whom it is addressed. There's nothing left to say. Silence, Mary Poppins teaches us, is not only golden but also the gold standard of good living--that is, a life of kindness and compassion and beauty. Here are some more pearls of folk wisdom on silence:

1. From my neighbor: "Stupid and cheerful works for me."
2. From mom: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."
3. From Sally Berger: "You never saw a fish on the wall with its mouth shut."
4. From Northern Ireland: "Whatever you say, say nothing."
5. From the Dalai Lama: "Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent."
6. From Mahatma Gandhi: "In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth."
7. From Ausonius: "He who does not know how to be silent will not know how to speak."
8. From Confucius: "Silence is the true friend that never betrays."
9. A German Proverb: "Silence is a fence around wisdom."
10. Robert Greeleaf: "Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much."
11. Phillip Brooks: "A man who lives right, and is right, has more power in his silence than another has by his words.”
12. From Thomas Merton: "It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers. The more solitary I am the more affection I have for them…. Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say."
13. From Mother Teresa: "We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature--trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence...We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

Thursday Thirteen


  1. Sandy, thank you for the thoughts on silence. Excellent TT post!

    I try to be funny in my TT post: Work of the Poet

  2. Anonymous6:26 PM

    Amen to that! Silence can be the best thing for all of us sometimes!
    Great post!

  3. Silence is golden. I wish I could get my husband to read this post. He is a big talker!

  4. Anonymous7:07 PM

    OMG. I love #3!

  5. Thank you for the thoughts! Wonderful TT! Happy Thursday! :)

  6. Anonymous8:44 PM

    Great list! There are lots of people who should practice silence more often.

  7. I am the only one at home right now, and I am enjoying the silence! :)

  8. Cool comments on silence. Thanks for sharing and Happy TT.

  9. Very great list. They are all well said.
    Thanks for the visit.

  10. Nice collection of quotes. Happy TT and thanks for stopping by.

  11. "In quietness and confidence shall be my strength."

  12. It is much better to keep your mouth shut and let people believe you are a fool than to open it and confirm the fact! LOL

  13. That didn't quite work the way I wanted.

    Silence takes us out of ourselves.

  14. Anonymous6:58 AM

    Hi!Thank you for visiting my TT post.
    As usual,great writing from you.

  15. Anonymous6:59 AM

    Hi, Sandy!I did not do my TT but I would just like to thank you for visiting me always.

  16. Anonymous7:00 AM

    Hi!When I become silent, everybody is asking what is wrong.Well, they have to read your post.

  17. Anonymous8:35 AM

    Hi Sandy,
    Silence certainly is Golden :)

    I have a special Award for you :)
    Details here
    Have a great day,

  18. Anonymous8:50 AM


  19. wonderful thoughts.

  20. Sandy, those are incredible.

    The final one brings me back to Yellowstone. When we were snowshoeing, we'd stop and just listen to ... nothing. Not even the trees in the wind.

    It was magical.

  21. As a big fan of both Mary Poppins and alone time, I enjoyed this. (Thanks for visiting my TT)

  22. Anonymous11:43 AM

    Great quotes. However you forgot my favorite on the subject. "It is best to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." -- Mark Twain

  23. I think I might have to adopt that first quote!

    Thanks for visiting my TT.

  24. That is a great post! Often times people don't seem to fully realize the power of silence!

    Happy TT :-)

  25. Sandy, glad you liked the Hillary Clinton bumper sticker! :)

  26. Most excellent and enlightening post! I remember as a child rewinding Mary Poppins over and over again so I could learn to say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious backwards! What kind of reaction would that one get?

  27. Anonymous3:49 PM

    I love that silent and listen are the same word! Words are magical.

  28. Quote: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

    I try to put this to work when blogging, being nice with my comments to complete strangers as learned me how to be nicer to folk I come across each day.

    If I can make someone feel that little bit pleased, happy, or cheered, I feel all those things myself.. My mum used to say this one .. " It's nice, to be nice.

    Great post and very thought provoking.... see thats quite nice a comment ;o)

  29. This is a beautiful collection of quotes. This is my favorite:
    'In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light'

  30. I like Mother Theresa's thought that God can not be found in noise and restlessness. This is true in my life. Only when I have "Quiet Time" w/ God that I feel peaceful and more creative.

  31. After several days in NYC, I'm definitely enjoying the (relative) silence of home!

  32. Anonymous3:25 PM

    This is an excellent post. These are good words for all of us to remember.

  33. Anonymous2:43 PM

    your German Proverb: "Silence is a fence around wisdom." is actually Talmud,(mishna) Pirke Avoth 3:17.
    attributed to rabbi akiva.


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