Catholic to Quaker: Encountering a Holy Silence

Roberta Bothwell had spent more than a year training to become a Catholic nun when a family emergency took her out of the convent. She eventually got married, entered a period of spiritual questioning, and was invited by a friend to a Friends meeting at a house in Buffalo—a visit that transformed her faith journey.

“I felt very nervous, shy,” she recalls. She found some introductory brochures in the lobby, picked up a card, and read its message: Welcome to the Quakers. We sit in silence. If the Spirit moves you to speak, please speak. If the Spirit moves you to remain silent, please remain silent.

“That was an aha moment,” Roberta says. “Nobody had ever told me that silence was as holy as talking. Nobody in my whole life.”

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