Friends: In reviewing the work done by many of us, both teachers and students, across a wide variety of truly marvelous classes, none covered what I consider the heart and soul of Quakerism – and that is sitting in silence, either in a group or alone contemplating our self, seeking personal change.
Skipping this essential subject, we move down stream to such as keeping the Peace testimony and supporting Black Lives, etc.
If we have not experienced the change of heart, the different modality, the shift of perspective taught in the silence, being peaceful is a struggle. If we have been deeply changed by the wellspring, peacefulness and other good experiences are natural consequences!
George Fox refused military duty because he had been changed by the Quaker process of his day, and no longer had any interest in fighting for what he formerly considered important, not because he invented the Peace testimony, or was convinced of it, or was trying to abide by it. But because he was a changed man.
Hear Isaac Pennington explaining that the Scriptures now rank second to searching the heart in the silence: “And truly, friends, I witness at this day, a great difference between the sweetness of comprehending the knowledge of things, as expressed in the Scriptures, (this I fed much on formerly,) and tasting the hidden life, the hidden manna in the heart, which is my food now.”
The silence is the well-spring of Quaker life. Does our practice live up to this expectation? Do we gather to be changed? Are we being changed? Or is personal change no longer on the Quaker agenda? God help me, I am not done!
– John Cowan, Twin City Friends