Silence is not just that which is around words and underneath images and events. It has a life of its own. It’s a phenomenon with an almost physical identity. It is almost a being in itself to which you can relate. Philosophically, we would say being is that foundational quality which precedes all other attributes. When you relate to the naked being of a thing, you learn to know it at its core. Silence is at the very foundation of all reality. It is that out of which all being comes and to which all things return. (If the word “silence” does not grab you, you can interchange it with nothingness, emptiness, vastness, formlessness, open space, or any undefined reality.)
You do not hear silence (precisely!), but it is that by which you do hear. You cannot capture silence. It captures you. Silence is a kind of thinking that is not thinking. It’s a kind of thinking which mostly sees (contemplata). Silence, then, is an alternative consciousness. It is a form of intelligence, a form of knowing beyond bodily reacting or emotion. It is a form of knowing beyond mental analysis, which is what we usually call thinking.
Richard Rohr, adapted from Silent Compassion: Finding God in Contemplation
I have found silence to be my true home and refuge, and the source of whatever there may be of faith in me, and trust. It is the place from which I can look at love and death, and find them not to be in opposition. Death is only the gate by which we must all fall into the arms of love, and so a sacred thing. But I can only see this in silence, by way of silence; I would think it very difficult for anyone to come to it another way.
Silence being, as Rohr says, ‘at the very foundation of all reality’, it is itself love, the Ground of Being. I think we misunderstand love, more often than not. It is not a thing we can acquire, nor a state we can aspire to, so much as the precondition for being itself. Why else would anything be, still less come to know itself, and in itself God, and so love?