From the Ancrene Wisse:
So the good shall always have a witness, especially for two reasons. The first is so that the envious cannot lie about them without the witness proving them false. The second is to set others an example… (74, in Anchoritic Spirituality, Classics of Western Spirituality)
We pull ourselves back from hubbub in a small way (December’s silence) so as to perceive speech better (inner and outer), and to witness to it – to demonstrate that what is said is heard – that what is said is not absolute, but has a place to go. We also demonstrate the act of attending/waiting-for-and-with…
So on the one hand, we are guilty by attention (like a witness in a trial, we are part of the process), and on the other, guilty of attention. By guilt I mean – we reveal our will without concealment; silence is our action.