"Let us consider silence as destination, ambition, maturity of mind, focusing device, filter, prism, compass point, necessary refuge, spiritual refreshment, touchstone, lodestar, home, natural and normal state in which let's face it we began our existence in the warm seas of our mothers, all those months when we did not speak, and swam in salt, and dreamed oceanic dreams, and heard the throb and hum of mother, and the murmur and mutter of father, and the distant thrum of a million musics waiting patiently for you to be born.
"I rise early and apply myself to my daily reading. Herman Melville: All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by Silence, and Silence is the general consecration of the universe. Thomas Merton: A man who loves God necessarily loves silence. Jorge Luis Borges: Absolute silence is the creative energy and intelligence of eternal being. Job: I put my finger to my lips and I will not answer again. Melville again, poetically pithy in the midst of the vast sea of his sentences: Silence is the only Voice of our God.
To which I can only say (silently) amen.
"It's harder to be silent in summer than in winter, says my sister. It's harder to be silent in the afternoon than in the morning. It's hardest to be silent when eating with others. It's easy to be silent in the bath. It's easy to be silent in the bed. It's easiest to be silent near water, and easiest of all to be silent by the lips of rivers and seas.
"The silence of chapels and churches and confessionals and glades and gorges, places that wait for words to be spoken in the caves of their ribs. The split second of silence before two people simultaneously burst into laughter. The pregnant pause. The hot silence of lovemaking. The stifling stifled brooding silence just before a thunderstorm unleashes itself wild on the world. The silence of space, the vast of vista. The crucial silences between notes, without which there could be no music; no yes without no.
"I study the silence of my wife. Her silence when she is upset; a silence I can hear all too well after twenty years of listening for it. Her riveted silence in chapel. Her silence rocking children all those thousands of hours in the dark, the curved maple chair murmuring, the hum of the heater, the rustle of fevered boy resting against the skin of the sea from which he came.
"My sister was loud as a teenager, cigarettes and music and shrieking at her brothers, but she gentled as the years went by, and much of my memory of her has to do with her sitting at the table with my mother, the two women talking quietly, the swirl of cigarette smoke circling, their voices quick and amused and circling, the mind of the mother circling the mind of the daughter and vice versa, a form of play, a form of love, a form of literature."