On my recent trip to Scotland, I chose to take with me a book which sounded intriguing. Sarah Maitland’s A Book of Silence is a beautifully written book by a Christian author about her choice to experience silence by first living remotely for six weeks on the Isle of Skye then visiting the desert of Sinai.
I found it to be the perfect accompaniment for my trip to Scotland. I read it in Largs and finished just before heading off to the Isle of Eigg. It was a much more meatier book than I had expected it to be. The book is partly an account of her experiences living in silence and her exploratory research into silence. I found both her research and experiential accounts fascinating. The book looks into historical accounts of those who have been on similar journeys (such as the Desert Fathers and Mothers), the spiritual (contemplative), psychological and physical aspects of living alone in silence for an extent of time (such as hearing voices and heightened senses). It is also the author’s quest into the possible virtues of silence. For instance, can silence aid in the creative process? (The answer may surprise you!)
After reading the book, I can’t say I experienced a lot of personal silence as I was in Scotland with my family but I did experience more than the usual amount on Eigg. I think we all need some time of silence for personal well-being but a life-time on one’s own may not be the best choice for anyone.
This is a very thought-provoking and inspiring book which I highly recommend!