Silence and Thunder
June 19, 2011
During the past three months there have been three Quaker Quest meetings held at the Quaker Meetinghouse in Storrs. The first was about peace, then worship, and Friday night's meeting was about simplicity. It was a three hour meeting that started at 6:30 p.m.
In the beginning, strawberry shortcake was served.
At 7 o'clock, handheld chimes were sounded and the assembled moved from a dining area to a room with about 50 chairs arranged in a circle. Five to ten minutes of silence started the meeting.
Silent consideration was used by the group throughout. The silence didn't feel implemented as much as it felt...organic, despite the thunder rumbling outside.
My camera never sounded so loud as when its shutter was released while surrounded by this silent circle of worship. I made two photographs from inside this circle.
Before last night I was not familiar with Quaker theology beyond a vague awareness that peace was a tenet. Silence, I learned, is a primary Quaker method of worship. Queries, I also learned, are a primary tool for considering ideas; asking questions when searching for answers.
Gerald Sazama, a meeting participant, provided me with a 20-page excerpt from "A Testament of Devotion," by Thomas R. Kelly, a Quaker educator. The excerpt included these thoughts on peace:
"For the experience of Presence is the experience of peace, and the experience of peace is the experience not of inaction but of power, and the experience of power is the experience of a pursuing Love that loves its way untiringly to victory.
He who knows the Presence knows peace, and he who knows peace knows power and walks in complete faith that that objective Power and Love which has overtaken him will overcome the world."