A habit of silence

Silence as a spiritual practice is much more than being able to sit still without talking for thirty minutes or longer. Instead, silence is a quality of presence. The silence we search for is an overall state of being. It is not something we achieve with great effort, either, but something we uncover that is inside us. Somewhere at our core there is a reservoir of silence. . . . To return regularly to this depth, whether in cloistered silence or in line at the grocery, is called "a habit of silence." It is not duration that is important, but the returning time after time to the source within us that, in time, shapes who we are.

I enter silence as if I were to open a door and enter a room

I am discovering that Silence is not a concept, an idea, not the familiar "absence of sound." Instead, I "enter" silence as if I were to open a door, cross a threshold, and enter a room. Silence is substantive, tactile, like material. I feel its layers. It has depth like water, shallow or deep. I immerse myself in it. It is like water, supportive. I lay back in it. It is buoyant or it can draw me down. I think about whether or not it has a bottom, a ground. Perhaps its bottom turns into a top at some point, just as going east eventually leads west. I feel secure in the way it totally envelops. It is pleasurable yet mysterious.

Mark Van Doren wrote about "the [silent] web of the world, how thick and how thin, ancient and full of grace." What a lovely vocation for me to spend the rest of my years playing with the secrets of that shining place.