In Search of Silence

by Helen Blohm
Buffalo Meeting


I feel I have held my silence for too long. It seemed fortuitous that the March issue of SPARK had a front page article by a member of the Buffalo meeting and later an editor's note saying "let's talk about it".


That is precisely the problem. Quoting from the article, "meeting for worship is described as silent waiting, where we expect to come into the presence of God. In this living silence, we listen for the still, small voice that comes from God". 


A still, small voice cannot be heard above all of the cacophony I have found in today's meetings. 


I grew up in the Buffalo meeting in the 50's. Back then it was extremely rare for someone to speak in meeting. This seemed only appropriate given that God has never seemed to me to be very chatty. All religions are based on God sharing with only a few.


Somewhere in the mid-1970's, I noticed things changing. One instance I still remember vividly. I was attending meeting at the old meeting house in Philadelphia. I had gone to find some quiet time in the midst of a hectic and pressure filled schedule getting my MBA from Wharton. 


A number of messages had already been given when one young woman urgently began speaking. She continued on and on (and could have been under the influence of some substance) when she was vocally cut off by a male member ending the meeting. 


Since then I have attended numerous meetings in search of sharing silence with others. As soon as the 10 minute required period of silence is over, the "messages" begin unabated until the hour is done. With the introduction of social media, I can only imagine the "need" to share has only intensified.


These Sunday mornings I enjoy my solitude in the beauty of nature. I've kinda given up on going to meeting any more, though I do try to practice Quaker values in my everyday life.


Maybe, instead of us talking about God, we should let God talk to us. What would happen if one entire meeting a month were held in complete silence?