Silence is a funny thing. We live in an age of noise, of traffic and aeroplanes and neighbours, of TV and radio, of wearing an ipod to walk down the street, drowning out the relentless booming of passing car stereos. The world is noisy, and often our response is to cover the noise we can't control with noise we can, noise upon noise upon noise.
Which is why silence is so unusual to us. If we're ever exposed to it it weighs upon us, filling our ears with a deafening roar of nothingness. And then, when we recover ourselves, we may find that in the silence we begin to order the chaos that swirls around inside our heads. It takes a while, initially feeling like you're trying to tame a monkey with ADHD just let loose in a peanut shop, but things do settle. And calmness comes.
So where can we find silence? If you live in a city your options are limited, unless you own a sound-proofed booth, of course. Even in the country there's all that pesky wildlife and birdsong to contend with. Where do we find it?
One advantage of many church buildings in Britain having been built centuries ago is that they have very thick walls, and hence filter out much, if not all, outside noise. Another fact about churches is that for much of the time they are empty. Perhaps here we can find a place of sanctuary, of peace and silence, regardless of our faith or denominational persuasion.
And who knows what we may hear in the silence.