The Taste of Silence (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2015)

With a disarming subtitle — “How I came to be at home with myself” — this book may seem to be just another memoir of someone living with illness (author Bieke Vandekerckhove, diagnosed with ALS in 1988 at age nineteen, died shortly after this English language edition of her book was published). But this book’s value goes far beyond the life story of its author, remarkable though that may be. It is a poetic and insightful meditation on the centrality of silence within any serious, sustained spiritual practice. Vandekerckhove drank not only from the wells of Benedictine and Trappist spirituality, but also embraced Ch’an Buddhism; in her writing she offers an articulate consideration of how silence is always the same, despite the many cultural and theological differences that distinguish one religious path from another. Brilliant in its simplicity, this is a book to read slowly and prayerfully.

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