Ben Pink Dandelion, in the Swarthmore lecture, writes of worship, We come together to nurture and enhance that sense of connection that spreads from us to the Divine and back again, and between all of us who are part of this power and this Life. We do not journey alone, but find in the silence and stillness the joy of that connection.Quaker worship gives us a communal intentionality and internal space to feel together the life of the Spirit that is with us all the time. It allows us to feel that inward communion one with another, and this experience binds our community all the more strongly… ideally we enter into the silence and stillness of worship and experience an encounter with the Divine which feeds and directs our ministry, whether it is vocal within the meeting, or in terms of our life beyond the meeting house.
We find the spiritual at the heart of the stillness, the garden of God’s love and wisdom brought to life inwardly as a place to partake in the life of the Spirit. We find joy and wisdom and guidance and love all present, and can feel the binding of that encounter between us. In meeting for worship for business, we can still feel led by the spirit into new and unimagined places. It is a wondrous gift, and we are changed by bringing our daily concerns into that space.
My self-monitoring and aware presence are supplemented by a third state, the communal stillness. I need to be self-aware, and have autonomic brain processes for this, or I would be unable to walk, but that conscious egoist self-judgment- “What will people think of me?”- is inexpert and often counter-productive. The highest treason: to do the right thing for the wrong reason. I sit attentively, my body language aiding my attention, or I sit in the same posture thinking how good it looks, or even that it should help my attention.
Beyond the conscious self-judgment, and aware presence, I bring the Unconscious to consciousness, and at the end of that is my connection to God. I have known the gathered meeting, and I have known meetings which were not gathered, which are in the majority perhaps.
It seems to me that I am not Convinced, in the Quaker language, converted to the sense of God’s guidance animating Quakers in all of life, not just in the Sunday hour. I have been aware of the possibility for years.