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Review: "A Book of Silence"

Posted on November 11th, 2011

During my Sabbatical I slowly read a thought provoking book entitled “A Book of Silence” by Sara Maitland that deepened my understanding of silence and its implications for my own life. I remain convinced that silence, along with solitude, remains one of the most indispensable  and neglected spiritual practices today. The following are her insights (out of her journey into silence) that I noted in my journal: 1.  Silence has a positive power and presence. It is more than simply “the absence of all noise and words.”  It has at least eight effects: 1) intensification of our physical sensations; 2) stripping of our public self as “silence un-skins us”; 3) the hearing of voices; 4) connectedness; 5) a boundary confusion with time; 6) an exhilarating sense of peril; 7) bliss or ineffability and; 8) playful joy. 2. God has created many types of silence. The silence of the snow or the sun or the desert, for example, are each different. Some are deep; others are thin. The desert’s, for example, is dense. 3. There is a low volume in silence — God. 4.  Wealth is measured by how much time we have, not money (Thoreau). 5. In desert silence, we are invited to die, to pluck out our eyes and lose our lives. 6. We are to sink into silence, allowing it to work in and on us. Sara Maitland made continual changes in her life by moving further out into the English countryside in order to experience a greater and greater silence. St. Anthony, in the fourth century, moved from an “outer mountain” to an “inner mountain” with greater solitude as he grew older.  I too sense a call to a greater silence as I grow older and engage in an ever larger, more expansive ministry in the church. The question is what might that look like in the 21st century as a pastor/church leader living in New York City? Why do you think we have such difficulty allowing silence to work “in” and “on” us?

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Church Culture Revolution: A 6-Part Vision That Deeply Changes Lives