Not all men are called to be hermits, but all men need enough silence and solitude in their lives to enable the deep inner voice of their own true self to be heard at least occasionally. When that inner voice is not heard, when man cannot attain to the spiritual peace that comes from being perfectly at one with his own true self, his life is always miserable and exhausting.
~ Thomas Merton, The Silent Life.
Thomas Merton, or Father Louis by his monastic name, knew that only the true contemplative experience teaches the discipline of silence, which needs to exclude any noises and unnecessary chats, because they would profane those spaces of silence. But all true wise men—as a Camaldolese monk, Father Franco, once told me—speak few words and their words are often “silence” at the same time. Their words spring from a deep meditation. True silence keeps us away from narrow mindness. The word is a great thing, but it is not what is greatest: if word is silver, as the old proverb goes, silence is gold. Hi who aims at the higher levels of spiritual life needs silence as much as he needs his daily bread and rest for his body.