Silence is not easy to find in the Western world. In many households the television is switched on all day, though no one may be listening or watching. People walk down the street locked into their mobiles and iPods and do not hear the sound of birds or children playing.
And yet silence remains a precious gift which goes way beyond any words we might speak. As Claudio says in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, ‘Silence is the perfect’st herald of joy; I were little happy if I could say how much.’
It is the gift of poets to express such precious silence in words. I remember Robert Frost saying that if he wrote a poem about heart-ache or heart-break, and a reader said, ‘That is exactly how I feel, though I couldn’t have put it into words’ then, he felt, he had achieved his task.
In our practice of meditation, seated in silence we learn, in the words of the Welsh poet, R.S.Thomas, that ‘the meaning is in the waiting’. Slowly, over weeks and months, the sands within us shift and change, and we find ourselves growing in deeper awareness, while neuroses and problems have a way of dissolving of their own accord. We have but to persevere.