Silence is both more than and less than the absence of noise. I know that I can sit for a long time in total quiet and stillness without getting anywhere further than the surface of my own thoughts. I know too that I can sink into the kind of deep attentiveness to God which Underhill describes in this chapter while all around me is noise and movement.
What Underhill is describing here is not just silence, but that quality of deep attentiveness, that sense of profound stillness, in which “we come to rest before God”. A regular pattern of external silence may help us to cultivate that interior silence, stillness, attentiveness, but I am less convinced than Underhill that it is essential. For many people, such a rhythm of life is simply impossible, and yet for all of us God is waiting and longing for our attentive interior silence, which does not depend upon our external circumstances.
It is to this interior silence that we are called in Advent: watching and waiting for the one who is to come, longing in the quiet of our hearts for the coming Christ. Our Advent silence enables us to wait attentively, alert to the signs of the one who is to come and is already among us.
This year for #AdventBookClub we are reading ‘Music of Eternity: meditations for Advent with Evelyn Underhill’ by Robyn Wrigley-Carr. Join the conversation in the Facebook group, or by following the hashtag on Twitter.