I’ve begun a book by Gregory Wolfe titled Intruding Upon the Timeless. In it he quotes Simone Weil, whom he tags as, “One of the most brilliant mystical writers of the twentieth century, a woman intensely Jewish and intensely Christian at the same time.” She spoke of suffering and beauty as the two great means by which we are forced to ask the ultimate questions:
There can be no answer to the ‘Why?’ of the afflicted . . . . The only things that compel us to ask the question are affliction, and also beauty; for the beautiful gives us such a vivid sense of the presence of something good that we look for some purpose there, without even finding one. Like affliction, beauty compels us to ask: Why? Why is this thing beautiful? But rare are those who are capable of asking this question for as long as a few hours at a time. The afflicted man’s question goes on for hours, days, years. It ceases only when he has no strength left.
He who is capable not only of crying out but also of listening will hear the answer. Silence is the answer. This is the eternal silence for which Vigny bitterly reproached God; but Vigny had no right to say how the just man should reply to this silence, for he was not one of the just. The just man loves. He who is capable not only of listening but also of loving hears this silence as the word of God. The speech of created beings is with sounds. The word of God is silence. God’s secret word of love can be nothing else but silence. Christ is the silence of God.