7th December, 2022
Sara Maitland, A Book of Silence (Granta, 2008), 221.
Image: Patrick Schneider, Munich, unsplash.com/@patrick_schneider
The short quote in the image, above, is taken from the longer quote, below, from Sara Maitland's A Book of Silence (Granta, 2008), 213 and 221. You can read more about this book by clicking here.
'Self-emptying, loss of ego, handing one’s whole self over to God, in prayer and in practice, is the key not to just some future post-death ‘salvation’ but to an essential happiness and well-being now; empty of self … to be filled with God. To this end the desert hermits set about humbling their pride, liberating themselves from their slavery to desires, training themselves by rigorous self-discipline. Their means to this end was a level of asceticism which can seem masochistic or even deranged. But as they understood it, the disciplines and rigours of this life set them free: free from bondage to habits, to pointless desires and to the weakness of the will that Paul summarised so neatly: “That which I would do I do not do and do I even that which I would not do.” Free to lose ego, lose identity, strip naked before God and be loved. And at the heart of this discipline was silence; first external silence, then internal silence, peace of heart and mind, which could only come from the generous giving away of the self backed up by very hard work. And, beyond that, they hoped they might encounter the silence of God.
... There is something hideous, especially to a contemporary Western sensibility, about a systematic and determined attempt to break down, or thin out the boundaries of the self and become open to, participate in, the undefined, illimitable freedom of the divine. … Silence is the ground for this work … It is, in itself, a form of freedom, it generates freedom, free choices, inner clarity, strength. A freedom from oneself and a freedom to be oneself.