I didn't go to Quaker meeting last week and was inclined to miss it again today as I counted up the various chores and errands I needed to get done. However, I decided to go out of the belief that absence would lead to a disconnect from the community, and that this was neither good for myself or those I participate in fellowship with.
After all, Quaker community is founded on interdependence and it should be as much about going to give something to it, even if we don't know what that is, as well as taking away from it. Based on this line of reasoning, it could be argued it is a duty to participate in Meeting for Worship even when we feel we don't need or want to.
As it turned out, the hour proved to be one of what I would describe as 'deep silence' with no vocal ministry given - just the odd shuffling, coughing and turning of pages. At the end a Friend commented that she found meetings in which no vocal ministry is given to be as equally powerful as those with. I found myself in full agreement. I had at times during the meeting, experiencing unsettled points in between a sleepy yet focused stillness, felt an impulse to reach for one of the books on the central table. I resisted as the absence of ordered, concentrated words in voice, print and in mind was proving to be somehow nourishing.
I've looked around tonight for short quotes on silence, as a way of finding expression for what I experienced today. Instead I found a whole article by John Bakas, writing for the Huffington Post.