David Steindl-Rast, The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life (Darton, Longman and Todd, 2018), 122.
Image: Daniel Thürler, Switzerland, unsplash.com/@drivemyart
'Silence … is not the absence of word or sound. It is not characterised by absence but by presence, a presence too great for words. When we have some little joy or pain we are apt to talk about it. When joy or pain grows strong we rejoice or cry. But when bliss or suffering become overpowering — we are silent. Any encounter with mystery is hidden in silence. The very term “mystery” comes from the Greek word, muein: “to keep silent” or “close the mouth.” Mystery is not an empty emptiness but the incomprehensible Presence that touches us and renders us speechless as it imparts to us meaning.
Only by the tension between word and silence is meaning upheld. (Both “word” and “silence” are taken here in the most comprehensive sense, as two dimensions of all reality.) The moment we relax this tension meaning escapes us: the moment we break the tension meaning is broken. Failing to see the distinction between word and silence — a distinction greater and more basic than any other — would mean relaxing the tension. Yet pushing the distinction to the point of separation would break the tension. The point is that silence and word are distinguished as well as united by the third dimension … that of understanding.'
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