Stillness

Blake, the wise and foolish virginsBen 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 Blake, the wise and foolish virgins, wiseled 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.

7 thoughts on “Stillness

  1. Communal stillness? I prefer the communal ebullience caused by champagne into which someone popped at least an amphetamine 😛
    Our time is counted. 70, 80 something? At best? Well then it better be fun! Very much fun! Because then it’s over and that’s it. That’s where the stillness genuinely comes in.

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  2. I want to come to Pink’s parties ! I also like communal ebullience and a party-hearty environment … then you can have a proper snoop around the house.

    I thought this was a wonderful tract for Quakers, Clare … you should sent it round. It’s very good.

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    • Of my acquaintances, I know people over 80 who are clinging onto middle age, and one aged 95 who is certainly old. He lives in a care home, has tunnel vision so that he needs guided between rooms leaning on someone’s arm, and has some physical frailty. He told me once he is not happy, but content.

      I see him at the Quaker meeting. We want to look after him, getting him his coffee in his sippy-cup as he likes it. I don’t know what to say to him, especially as through his hearing aids without visual clues he thinks I sound male. No-one else knows, either. So he sits alone, until rather than saying to his usual driver (who is 75) “Can we go now, please?” he stands up, swaying a bit. It makes the demand to go more difficult to resist. Or, he does not want to disturb us aurally, not realising how disturbing it is to see him stand. If I find all this uncomfortable, I think he must even more.

      Yet even then, I don’t think I would want to die. I might only want palliative care if I caught cancer, but I would not want to be snuffed out.

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  3. Sister mine, how lovely it is to read your words, and hear your voice in them. I love your comments too. So, do you agree with BPD, or do you find yourself thinking of other words? Words are mere symbols for that which we understand, but cannot articulate.

    I am convinced, in the sense that I felt and understood (some of) why we are and how we are connected to that greater part. But I cannot really describe it, so I do my best, come to Meeting less often than I would like, and listen. I try not to think about it, because when I do, inevitably, I find myself falling short in one department or another, which leaves me feeling worse than before I went to Meeting. Like the times when I swear – ‘it’s a lot of bollox…!!’ and I know there is disapproval and it just exhausts me.

    Just to find the peace is blessing enough, for me, at any rate. XXXX 😀

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    • I have a lot invested in Quakers. When I transitioned, they took me in, and now the meeting is my human community- my source of chat and hugs.

      I see what Ben says as a possibility. I have experienced that. It is not my usual experience. I thought of not posting this, and have more disappointment in Quakers half-written. Perhaps a lot depends how you get on with the people.

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