The Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 6
The "spirit of silence" that our Father Benedict instructs the disciple to cultivate is a silence of a particular character. It is not merely the absence of sound, but a presence, a quality of experience. The spirit of silence is nurtured to further the spiritual formation of individuals and of the community at large.
The spirit of silence is kind and generous, not stingy, hostile, or resentful. It is safe. Safe silence, held in common, is a great gift. Safe silence need not be comfortable, however. Silence unlocks our veiled habits of thought and emotion, and sometimes it takes considerable work to feel safe without filling the space. Yet, with practice, we find that basking in the spirit of silence, which is nothing less than the active Presence of God, is the safest place to be.
Rarely do words ring truer in my life than St. Benedict's quote from Proverbs 10:19: "In much speaking you will not escape sin."
To "hold silence" is to listen for direction from somewhere other than my own thoughts and words. It is to be fully present and engaged with life while resisting the temptation to reach for the steering wheel.