The Power of Silence: The riches that lie
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THIS book explores "the world of those who regard silence as a
valuable companion, a source of inspiration . . . a plenitude, a
richness which those who shun it are missing". Its author was a
journalist: he knows how to write.
His book is a series of conversations - from very different
people and backgrounds. He invites them to tell of their own
experience of silence. So his book records a wide variety of
stories - from a wide variety of social, national, and credal
Most are told first-hand. Some tell of initial fear; others of
times when silence has helped them grow closer to prayer - and
perhaps God. Most come out of a Christian context, but some come
from quite different backgrounds: Transcendental Meditation, a
theatre play, a place in war-torn Lebanon where Sunnis and Shias
meet in silence, a murderer in prison, and a woman in the Swiss
Alps who claims to have no religion, but who lets the mountains
speak. The details vary, but the core is constant: the need for,
and the refreshing power of, silence.
One of Turner's most moving reports comes from Beirut, where a
man he interviewed had come to see that his prayer was (Turner
quotes) "I need, I want, I miss, I would like . . . Most of it was
demands, really. Now, for the first time, I heard of the idea of
listening to God. That was entirely new for me."
Hints on "how to" pray crop up. But this is not so much a guide
to meditation as a stimulus. What repeatedly comes across, and from
a wide variety of sources, are reports that the discovery of
silence need not be frightening. Rather, those who set out to
explore - perhaps with a sense of risk - often tell of wanting
He quotes with approval Richard Rohr: "True silence doesn't
evaluate. It simply values, allows things to be what they are. . ."
So, potentially, this is an important book.
Dr John Armson is a former Precentor of Rochester