Has anyone else noticed Annie Dillard’s preoccupation with silence? Several of her essays examine the role of silence, but this one explicitly so.
Even in the context of my own life, I feel the silence that consumes Annie Dillard. The silence she feels is universal. After all, we humans are born into a silent world.
Annie Dillard is right to be concerned with silence. Silence can be interpreted as a lack of connection, or a lack of presence. Silence is fine in movie theaters, but it is overwhelmingly unacceptable in relationships. In relationships, communication and interaction are crucial. We depend on interaction to affirm that our loved ones are present and attentive, and we require communication to feel loved and understood. Then what do we make of our relationship with God? How do we reconcile God’s silence with certainty of His existence? If there were a God, wouldn’t He want to communicate? Wouldn’t He want to speak with us, interact with us? How can He be content to sit in the clouds as an omnipresent observer?
When the fields around Annie suddenly embodied silence, I am sure she was plagued by these very questions. Yet, later in the essay she spoke of angels in the fields. She found angels in the very fields of silence that once terrified her. What allowed Annie Dillard to embrace silence? Did she come to understand silence as a medium for the divine?
What do you think, is God really silent? Or is it simply a matter of miscommunication? After all, who says that God communicates through English