Sitting in an hour of silence might not be the typical way to spend a weekend morning. But that’s exactly what I did on Sunday at the Northampton Friends Meeting.
Quaker worship is based on silent waiting, with the expectation of coming into the presence of God. Worshiping in silence brings the community together through love and faithfulness. During this silent worship, anyone may feel inspired to speak and share a message. While at the Meeting, I listened to people who rose to their feet and shared their story.
Although Quakers have been around since the mid-seventeenth century, many people who I have talked to are unfamiliar with the faith, often referencing Quaker Oats instead. Though the Quaker Oats logo is indeed of a Quaker—William Penn, a seventeenth-century philosopher and early Quaker—I am often struck by the unfamiliarity many people have regarding the Quaker faith.
Quaker worship is focused on group encounter with the divine, rather than on dogma or creed. There are 900,000 Quakers worldwide. They also use the name “Religious Society of Friends” or, more simply, “Friends.” Throughout history, Quakers have consistently opposed injustice, from refusing to participate in war to opposing slavery. Quakers believe in the importance of speaking to power and finding God in everyone. Quakers seek peaceful, non-violent ways to challenge inequalities and continue advocating for social justice.
As I sat in silence in the worship room, I used my energy to focus on my friends who are experiencing difficult times. Sending them love and kindness, I practiced the Quaker technique of holding the person in the light. This let me concentrate my efforts, as I imagined sending my positivity to counteract the negative energy my friend has been experiencing.
I found that the hour of silence went by quickly and, at the end, I felt refreshed. I enjoyed having an hour of silence to myself—a rarity these days—and used that time as a conscious reminder of the importance of sending love and kindness. It was a great way to begin my morning.