A hermit must have a deep experience of communion with humanity. Without this, you cannot be a hermit, because you would only be lonely. You would not be really solitary. To be alone and cut off from others would make you very unhappy, but to be alone, and to be deeply united with others, in deep communion, that is a possibility for which many people long. That is what I call solitude—over and against loneliness.
Silence is powerful; it must be approached with sensitivity. There are times when silence during a meal may be important, while at other times it may be a hindrance. Silence at meals is interesting to explore; many find it increases the energy obtained from the meal. But beware. A little silence in a noisy culture is revolutionary; you may learn to love it. If that happens, share your silence with those who also love silence.