We asked a diverse group of Friends what they find most valuable about silence in Meeting for Worship. This is what they said.
- A.M. Fink says that the silence is “where we meet the mystery without the distraction of words or the trappings of entertainment.” What do you think he means by “the distraction of words” and “trappings of entertainment”? What does it mean to “meet the mystery?
- Guli identifies that the most challenging aspect of waiting worship for her is listening to the way that God speaks through other people without arguing or responding. What do you find most challenging and enriching about waiting worship?
- Desmond Tutu says, “there can be no forgiveness without giving up all hope for a better past”. What do you think this means and how does it relate to waiting worship?
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Silence is the ground out of which worship comes.
As someone who talks a lot and isn’t nervous about talking, I think its good for me to shut up sometimes.
I think its hard to describe what settling into the silence feels like or its purpose necessarily but I think the silence is important because it gives you an opportunity to center.
What the silence does it is leaves the space for the sound, the whisper, even the noise of the Spirit. It leaves a space for the other to come in.
The silence is to me the quieting of the “daily mind”.
The silence is where we meet the mystery without the distraction of words or the trappings of entertainment.
And you center and you let Spirit do what she may.
Desmond Tutu says we have to give up all hope for a better past, and that can take a few moments to do.
Its drawing back from the past, drawing back from the future, and trying to be present and in the moment and to listen to what your heart is saying. It’s easier for me to do in an atmosphere of silence.
So that we can rid ourselves of the distractions, so that we can open ourselves to the possibility of experiencing the word of God.
Silence is a tool. It’s only a tool. Its a way that Quakers have of shutting out all of the distractions, all of the things that bubble up in our minds that get in the way of hearing that still small voice of God speaking to us, telling us what it is that God hopes for us and desires for us.
It just reminds us that we can listen.
It gives you a chance to find within yourself that light that can lead your life.
It is not a void. It is full of expectation and that awaiting of the messages of the heart is richly rewarded if you’re attentive.
Community Engagement with God
We do that corporately and I think there is a lot of importance in doing that together, and its different when you do it together.
If it were silent meditation at home, it wouldn’t be the same invitation. In silent worship, I get to sing and play my spiritual instrument with my friends.
The discipline of sitting in silence for me is about listening to the way that God speaks through other people. But I think that I feel more challenged and enriched when other people offer messages in Meeting because you don’t get to argue or respond. That’s my natural state, always wanting to have a discussion with someone.
It’s not just the silence, it is what we’re doing in Meeting for Worship. You have to listen to the way that God is speaking through other people, and you may not like it. And to me that’s a really good discipline.
In silence we meet with the holy spirit and we engage corporately in a conversation and its a community that shares this engagement with God.