Silence is essential for the health and well-being of humans and the environment in which they live. Yet silence has almost vanished from our lives and our world. Of all the books that claim to be about silence, this is the only one that addresses silence directly. Silence: A User's Guide is just what the title says: it is a guide to silence, which is both a vast interior spaciousness, and the condition of our being in the natural world. This book exposes the processes by which silence can transfigure our lives--what Maggie Ross calls ""the work of silence""; it describes how lives steeped in silence can transfigure other lives unawares. It shows how the work of silence was once understood to be the foundation of the teaching of Jesus, and how this teaching was once an intrinsic part of Western Christianity; it describes some of the methods by which the institution suppressed the work of silence, and why religious institutions are afraid of silence. Above all, this book shows that the work of silence gives us a way of being in the world that is more than we can ask for or imagine. ""Today we are bombarded by so much noise--the blare of loudspeakers in our shopping malls, the roar of motorbikes, the screeching of cars on our highways, the banging of doors, a veritable cacophony of noise, all a mad turbulent rush. But sometimes we have the joy of silence--when we have been quiet and discovered how it all helped us to be creative, to think deeply. Two people in love often discover they have communicated wordlessly and deeply as they sat quietly and their spirits have embraced and kissed in the pregnant silence. Maggie writes out of a long and deep experience of silence. . . . She is a sure guide, authoritative and scholarly--her bibliography is formidable. What a splendid gift to God's children everywhere."" --Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa ""Maggie Ross brings an extraordinary combination of practicality, scholarship, and prayerful reflection to this remarkable book. Readers cannot fail to profit from its many explorations, which lead to a passionate, iconoclastic, and cheering affirmation of the centrality of silence in our meetings with God."" --Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK ""Silence: A User's Guide is about silence--and also about words: about words that drown out silence, about poetic words that lead us deeper into silence and the community to be found in silence, about the mistranslated words that confuse the texts that speak most eloquently of silence, and about restoring the power of those great elementary words such as 'lo, ' 'see, ' 'yea, ' and 'behold' that bring us closest to the truth of silence."" --George Pattison, Professor of Divinity, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK ""There could scarcely be a more urgently needed theological project than Maggie Ross's, to try and bring a bit of renewed clarity to the church's all too often somewhat mangled tradition of thinking about contemplative prayer. And it is a task she undertakes with delightful verve and acerbity."" --Andrew Shanks, Canon Professor of Theology emeritus, Manchester Cathedral, Manchester, UK Maggie Ross is an Anglican solitary. She lives in Oxford, England.
Maggie Ross is a writer and translator well known for her insights into ancient spiritual texts and practices. A professed solitary under vows to the Archbishop of Canterbury, she is the author of The Fire of Your Life and Seasons of Death and Life.
Rowan Williams is the former Archbishop of Canterbury.