Do you practise meditation? I, like so many people, live alone. And particularly now that Tess has gone the house is so quiet for most of the day - there is little or no sound at all. If it is warm and I have the patio doors open then there is usually the sound of bird song, or a distant tap tapping as somebody makes something or mends something. But on the whole there is a silence for most of the time - and it is a silence that you can almost hear. But it is not a meditative silence.
I have no Christian beliefs - I am, if anything, a Humanist. But if I step into a church or any other place of worship, the silence that greets me there is a different silence from the one I meet when I open the door at home.
Matthew Henry - a 16th century non-conformist minister, said that in meditation 'we converse with ourselves' whereas in contemplation 'we converse with God'. I have friends who meditate as a matter of course every day. It has become part of their daily routine. I often consciously sit quietly and think - trying to keep my brain on a single thought line - but I don't find it easy. I am brilliant at deviating. And I confess to finding it easier in a spiritual place. Perhaps that says something about me.
As children this 'state of quietness' was definitely not encouraged; it was seen as 'daydreaming' and tended to result in one's mother saying she would find me something to do. A child seen to wander about doing nothing in particular was always seen as destined to have a life which would never amount to much. Just thinking was never encouraged - at least not in my growing up household.
These days episodes of 'Flog it' and such programmes are happily held inside places of worship such as the large cathedrals. And even small country churches hold events justifying this by saying that in Biblical times churches were used for all sorts of activities. I wonder, does this destroy the 'different silence' or does it return once all the activity has departed?