Monday, November 3, 2008
A Book of Silence
I can't recommend Sara Maitland's A Book of Silence, enough. Published this week by Granta, it charts an intellectual, spiritual and often physical journey that she has taken in pursuit of silence and an understanding of its part in her life. As a walker and a writer, I found startling resonances with my own experiences in the sister state to silence - solitude - and gained new insights into the lives of hermits, mountaineers, divers and writers, amongst others. Having been introduced to Saint Cuthbert by Sara's short story, After Life, I spent some time recently walking between places he chose to be. The pull I understand him to have felt between the life of silent reflection and prayer and a life of public duty out in the noisy world, made Sara's exploration particularly fascinating and pertinent. It's a book that draws together many aspects of culture and nature, spirituality and creativity, and the risks we must each take in 'designing' a life that makes us happy.