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Hearing the Silence

This possibility of being called began to keep me awake of a night.  I had heard no voice, but probably because I was starting to respond at about that time to the distant calling of girls, I could not shake the notion that I was being called by something that I knew nothing about.

I knew the story of the boy Samuel, how he was called in the night by a voice speaking his name.  I could imagine, so clearly that I could almost hear it, a voice calling out of the darkness: "J. Crow."  And then I thought maybe the voice had called, and that I had almost but not quite heard it.    One night I got out of bed and went to the window.  The sky over the treetops was full of stars.  Whispering so as not to waken my roommate, I said, "Speak, Lord, for they servant heareth."  And then, so help me, I heard the silence that stretched all the way from the ground underneath my window to the farthest stars, and the hair stood up on my head, and a shiver came into me that did not pass away for a long time.

- Wendell Berry's title character reflects back on his call to ministry as a teenage boy in an orphanage, in Jayber Crow (New York: Counterpoint, 2000), p. 43.