All our contemporary thinking about silence sees it as an absence or a lack of speech or sound - a totally negative condition. But Sara Maitland increasingly identified an interior dimension to silence, a sort of stillness of heart and mind which is not a void but a rich space.
Silence resists attempts to explain it. Indeed, ineffability is one of the key tests of mystical experience. I might even say that the "best" hermits are those who have least to say about it. The only thing Tenzin Palmo, a British Buddhist nun who spent three years high in the Himalayas in radical silence, seems ever to have said - at least publicly - about her personal experience is, "Well, it wasn't boring."