Silence is an “extremely significant part” of life at Jamberoo Abbey, according to Benedictine Abbess Hilda Scott. Source: ABC Life Matters.
On top of a small mountain in the middle of lush rainforest, there’s a simple brick building. Its floor is uneven slate, its walls are bare. A large window stretches across one side of it, looking out over the bush.
Just before 5am, the 24 people who live at Jamberoo Abbey, in the Kiama region on the south coast of New South Wales, begin to stir. There are whispers of scuffling feet, tinkling cutlery and other gentle sounds of busyness. What isn’t audible is the sound of anyone talking.
Jamberoo Abbey is a monastery that is home to a community of Benedictine nuns living largely in silence.
Abbess Hilda Scott has lived here for 30 years. She says life at the abbey wouldn’t be possible without silence.
“It’s essential to our way of living,” she says.
By removing most of the speaking from her life, she’s experienced a clearing of the mind. In that space, she says new thoughts emerge – and old ones become clearer.
For Hilda and her community, silence is closely connected with prayer and with a continual communication with something that is “deep”.
She says it’s a way of life that is “not about us personally” but “for the rest of the world too”.
“On our mountain at Jamberoo, there we are trying to live a deeper life. We believe while we’re trying to do that, then something’s being breathed into the world that hopefully makes a difference.”
Hilda Scott says living in silence ‘removes the filters we put on life’ (By Anna Kelsey-Sugg and Bec Zajac, ABC Life Matters)