Quaker Worship, Incarceration, and the Meaning of Silence

“I believe in silence and cherish silence, like most of us who worship,” says Ruth Brelsford. “However, I would say that silence that is chosen is very different than silence that is enforced.” In this episode of QuakerSpeak, Ruth reflects on her work with the incarcerated—many of whom find their voices taken from them because “society doesn’t want to listen.”

This month’s Friends Journal includes an essay by Ruth about teaching creative writing at Oklahoma’s Jackie Brannon Correctional Center, which she described briefly in our interview: “It has, I think, been helpful to them in terms of communication skills and addressing their lives and looking back at their lives and being honest with themselves, and it’s been really wonderful for me because I’ve learned a lot.”

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2 thoughts on “Quaker Worship, Incarceration, and the Meaning of Silence

  1. Thank you Ruth.
    What a light you are to these young men and to us.
    I think our most basic needs as humans is to seen, heard and received. I love the idea of writing as a way of reintroducing the eloquence of silence.

  2. Having helped facilitate many AVP (Alternatives to Violence Project) workshops, in both prison and community settings, I’m aware that whenever a brainstorming of “What is violence?” and “What is non-violence?” occurred, there would always be things that would come up and be written down under BOTH questions. One thing that ALWAYS made it onto both sheets of butcher’s paper would be: silence.

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