Silence and laughter may seem like strange bedfellows, but experience reveals that they are not. What, for example, do we call people who can spend hours together in silence without feeling awkward or tense and who can use humor to help each other through hard times? We call them, of course, good friends.

It takes good friends to sustain silence and laughter because both make us vulnerable. Silence makes us vulnerable because when we stop making noise, we lose control: who knows what thoughts or feelings might arise if we turned off the television or stopped yammering for a while? Laughter makes us vulnerable because it often comes in response to our flaws and foibles: who knows how foolish we might look when the joke is on us? We can share silence and laughter only when we trust each other — and the more often we share them, the deeper our trust grows.

The soul loves silence because it is shy, and silence helps it feel safe. The soul loves laughter because it seeks the truth, and laughter often reveals reality. But above all, the soul loves life, and both silence and laughter are life-giving. Perhaps this is why we have yet another name for people who can share silence and laughter with equal ease: we call them soulmates.

Parker J. Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness