Since both silence and solitude can on different occasions bring either comfort or depression, they can be either voluntarily sought or involuntarily undergone. Both can be, whether alone or coupled sources of either sweet poetry or dismal tragedy. The silence of Quaker devotion is pursued to overcome all the negative forms of solitude - above all that which is felt by a person abandoned by God in the desert of life, even if he or she is in a large and boisterous crowd or among joyous companions or in a deeply religious community.
After having run in vain from one philosophy or one religious commitment to another, the seeker may end up with empty hands, and not find the comfort of a friendly handclasp letting him or her feel the presence of God the Father. It is a great piece of luck to find that things are not like that - that God is always near, that He loves, corrects, teaches, and comforts us.
Too many however do not know that one seeks Him in vain in the byways of the world, in monuments built by human hands, or by climbing to a fantasy paradise invented whole hog by Masters of religion. Too many do not know that the less men talk, the more God speaks. So it is the gift of God to find the way of silence. This road lets us hear His voice over and beyond the sense organs, rational thought, and the reigning culture. It is present in every moment and in any condition, in both group worship and in awesome solitude.
The Lord of Silence waits for you to face up to silence, in order for you to put it to His and your service. So conquer the horrors of schizophrenic madness and of marginalised and isolated individuals destined for self-destruction. With Him silence and solitude can overcome most of the time their negative aspects.
Livorno, 3 VI 1984
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