“And of course it grows silently. In our noise-obsessed culture it is very easy to forget just how many of the major physical forces on which we depend are silent — gravity, electricity, light, tides, the unseen and unheard spinning of the whole cosmos. The earth spins, it spins fast. It spins about its own axis at about 1,700 kilometres per hour (at the Equator); it orbits the sun at 107,218 kilometres per hour. And the whole solar system spins through the spinning galaxy at speeds I hardly dare to think about. The earth’s atmosphere spins with it, which is why we do not feel it spinning. It all happens silently.

Organic growth is silent too. Cells divide, sap flows, bacteria multiply, energy runs thrilling through the earth, but without a murmur. ‘The force that through the green fuse drives the flower,’ is a silent force. Soil, that very topmost skin coating, is called earth and the planet itself is called earth. It is all alive — pounding, heaving, thrusting. Microscopic fungi spores grow, lift pavements and fell houses. We hear the crack of the pavements and the crash of the buildings — such human artefacts are inevitably noisy — but the fungus itself grows silently. Perhaps we are wise to be terrified of silence — it is the terror that destroyeth in the noontide.”

From Sara Maitland’s stunning A Book of Silence