"The door to wisdom is silence, a silence that embraces ignorance. In silence, the Mystery breaks over me. Of all human actions, only silence is the most inexhaustible. As Thoreau wrote in his journal: 'I have been breaking silence these twenty-three years and have hardly made a rent in it. Silence has no end; speech is but the beginning of it.' At each stage, silence deepens and expands, teaching me something new. First, with Joe's help, I learned that the habit of silence is an art that can be acquired, like painting or music, and that the life of a contemplative butts up against the life of a poet. For all my theological education, or maybe because of it, this came as a shock. Next, I learned that silence implies peace, and that all the noise in my head was a kind of addiction that sooner or later, like any other madness, could kill. The head noise had to go. Then, diving deeper still, I glimpsed something more, like a flash of water through a stand of trees, a deep place in the silence, more profound than any I had yet encountered, where my own self dissipates to reveal something hidden. This new something would take my entire life to plumb. From that time on, I felt like a man rappelling into a cave too deep to see the bottom. I had awakened to the living mystery in everything, including me. I could not watch myself into existence any longer; I had to accept my own existence as a Mystery wrapped in the Mystery of God."