Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality
by J. Brent Bill, Paraclete Press, 2005
Holy Silence is a good introduction to Quaker practices. It explains how silence can be an important spiritual practice for anyone. Mostly, Bill tells stories from real life about how people he knows use silence individually and collectively. Each chapter is sprinkled with queries for review and discussion, either in a group or as an individual.
I recommended it to Chris M. for his talk to the local Friends School board about Quaker uses of silence. I think it was fruitful for them. Although Chris pointed out that the clearly Christian language might not work for everyone. I think that's okay too. It was a good exercise for me to read about unprogrammed worship in modern Christian language.
This book was apparently written for non-Quakers. Nonetheless, it made me think. How seriously do we Friends take the practice of getting quiet so that we can really hear? We set up committees, for practical business and for clearness on various issues. How much of the time we spend in committee meetings do we spend listening for God’s will?
I know I talk too much and don’t listen enough, in almost all cases. I was recently reminded of that after a “conversation” with a new attender at my meeting. We started an interesting conversation at coffee hour, but she got cut off in a story she was telling by someone else who joined us.
I invited her to have coffee another time to continue telling her story. We did get together but by the end, I realized that I had done ¾ of the talking even though I had invited her so that I could listen to her. She was very kind about it, but I’m still embarrassed.
I guess I need to read Listening Spirituality by Patricia Loring next. Knowing when to shut up is an important spiritual discipline.
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