“For a number of years, the thought of attending a Quaker meeting crossed my mind from time to time … yet, I hesitated, imagining how uncomfortable I could end up being, sitting quietly for an hour in a group of quiet people. …I walked into the presence of God in a way I could never have imagined. I sat there stunned by the realisation that, in Quaker meetings, silence is worship and worship is silent. I found myself in the silence of people for whom feeling the need to worship is their common ground, who know that God is present and that there is nothing that could possibly have to be said by anyone else but him. This silence felt like the most honest and right worship I had ever experienced–no liturgy to get between me and God, no distractions, no words trying to describe a reality beyond the limits of language and imagination. …[Quakers] honour ‘that of God’ within themselves and in everyone else. …There is no ‘method’ setting out what the experience should be like for everyone. Quaker silence feels neither like silence for the sake of silence, nor like a discipline to bend the Self into. This silence is a place beyond our Selves. My whole being is in tune with God who I listen to, and with everyone who listens with me. God is here, and has calmed the storm in my mind. God is here, and creates order and clarity and peace. God becomes so spacious in this silence that I know again how small I am–and that I do not have to pretend to be anything else but small. …I am welcome to speak, as a woman, as a lay person, as a visitor. This is a place as free of judgment or prejudice as it can get between people…. We all left our egos at the door for an hour, and I was glad to get a break from mine. …When I left after the meeting, I knew that everything I needed had been given to me. I had experienced Communion, in the most direct and uncomplicated way. This kind of silence is hard to describe and, I find, hard to forget.” Anyuska
“Listen in silence before me.” Isaiah 41:1
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Could you sit quietly for an hour?
- Can you imagine worship with no need for human speech? …no liturgy between you and God? …no words trying to explain the inexplicable?
- When was the last time you left church feeling that “everything you needed” was given to you?
Abba, envelop me in deep silence.
For More: Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton
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