Aug 30, 2017
My Dear Friend:
I am sure you have sometimes found yourself sitting next to an unknown person at a dinner party; you try to engage in a conversation and the person's response is monosyllabic. You then turn to another topic, and the response you get is a grunt. You try your luck a third time with an identical result. You then come to the inevitable conclusion that you have nothing to say to your dinner partner; there seems to be no common ground between the two of you; you and your companion seem to be living in two different planets.
There ensues an unpleasant silence: let us call it the "silence of poverty." It is a dreadful experience for the plain reason that there is a painful contrast between the physical proximity of two people, and their spiritual remoteness. Being next to this person, you feel hopelessly alone, and to feel "alone" with another person next to you, is true lonesomeness indeed. As a matter of fact, in such cases, we all long for being physically alone, so that we can breathe freely – something impossible when a human body, which does not seem to be animated by a soul, is in our immediate proximity.
At the antipodes of this fearful emptiness, we find another type of silence (and how I wish that you have or will soon experience it): the silence of plenitude, or the silence of riches. Two persons who love each other can be so deeply moved by the depth of their reciprocal feelings that no word could adequately express the sublimity of their common experience. In such cases, they will remain silent because words would be dumb; they prove then to be so inadequate, so pale compared to the wealth of emotions that overwhelm the two lovers' hearts that silence alone is called for. But this silence is so eloquent that this mysterious interchange produces a music whose echo seems to be reaching the stars. St. Augustine has expressed this strikingly: "…words cannot communicate the song of the heart." (Commentary on the Psalms, Second Discourse, Psalm 32; Newman Press, p. 112).