We are half way through the first week of the new term and already I have been reminded of at least one of the reasons I love my job. Over the Christmas break I read Sara Maitland’s A Book of Silence. It’s a meditation on the meaning of silence; whether as the absence of noise or as something more powerful and positive. Sara has found her own silence by living in a remote place. This week, I found mine in the writing classroom; that velvet sound you hear when a group of people start to write. It’s the sound of concentration and focus, accompanied by the scratching of pens and pencils on paper. Sometimes there is a soft clicking when someone is using an electronic device, although I notice that those with touch screens really are silent, unless the writer has ornate fingernails. As I sit keeping watch over the time and observing the writing in the room I am rarely aware of noises from outside. It’s as if we exist in a cocoon; and yet I know that the heads I can see bowed over notebooks and pads around the table are full of noise. I can see the hurry to get words from thought to page and the busy fingers pushing pens along. I know that when the silence is broken it will be my voice that says ‘one more minute… get to a place where you can pause for now…’. I know that once I have spoken the silence will become filled with voices reading from the page and the murmuring of others as they listen and consider what is being read for the first time. I love this productive, fertile silence. I’m grateful to Sara Maitland for encouraging me to consider it.