I have a couple of thoughts/posts on the way, but this is one that’s been simmering for a while.
Here’s the heart of it — we have a tremendous bias towards speaking. When you put two or three people together in a room, they feel an obligation to talk to each other.
That’s so basic that it never really occurred to me. Or, it didn’t until the other day.
I’ve been attending an Ignatian prayer group — based on meditation and imaginative contemplation. Our meetings often last 2 hours, and have long stretches (up to 20 minutes often) with no speaking. None of that is particularly noteworthy, it just fits with the style of prayer.
What is interesting is that when that group of people is having tea before the prayer meeting, there are prolonged periods of silence. I’m not talking 10 second pauses. I’m talking about having 4 or 5 people in a room, and having 2-3 minutes go by without speaking. It’s almost as if the meditative prayer has taken away the obligation to speak. Or, at least taken away the bias against silence.