The Silence of the Quakers



I have a friend who was raised a Quaker. While discussing our respective faiths (I grew up Protestant) and the rituals associated with other religions, we discovered a shared dislike of scripted responses during worship. This led to a description of how we communicate with that entity referred to as GOD.

When my friend told me that Quakers communicate with GOD in silence, I was stunned. I am a big fan of silence. Silence in therapy, silence in nature, silence in church (except for musical interludes).

“Tell me more,” I said to her. She listed the values by which Quakers try to live their lives: social justice, gender equality, education, peace, simplicity. It turns out that those are my values too. My stereotype of a Quaker–funny hat, seriousness, traditionalism–had to go. We agreed that I would join her next time she attends a Quaker meeting.

That is a rather unexpected development for a person who, in essence, is spiritual, but resistant to the idea of institutionalized religion. I’d rather communicate privately with GOD, when the urge strikes, wherever I may be: walking in the park; sitting on a train; lying in bed just before I fall asleep.

In the Quaker approach, Friends prepare for the meeting by reaching a meditation-like state. That is progressive. They are encouraged to speak only if what they have to say contributes to furthering knowledge or understanding. That is what therapists-in-training are instructed to do when they start their clinical internship.

Let the silence speak.

I will keep you posted on my forays into “Quakerdom.”





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