The silence in which I live has opened my ears and eyes to the suffering of the world. In silence, you begin to hear the note of pain that informs so much of the anger and posturing that pervade social and political life. Solitude is also a teacher. Yearning makes the heart deep and makes you vulnerable. Silence and solitude strip away a skin and break down that protective shell of heartlessness which we cultivate in order to prevent ourselves from being overwhelmed by the suffering of the world that press in upon us on all sides.
~ from THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE by Karen Armstrong