by Hye Sung
We meet in silence. Sometimes we have a reading to draw us in, and we often pray and speak what the Spirit provokes, but the ground of our worship is silence. The silence makes space for God’s presence within us and among us.
For me, the silence is confrontational. The first twenty to thirty minutes, and sometimes longer, feels like I am wrestling God. The immediate pleasantness of silence wears off within five minutes, and anxiety usually begins to roll up my chest, into my throat. I struggle to sink into myself, and hush myself before God. I start thinking about work, what I forgot to do today, and I have to counsel myself back into the silence. Sometimes, especially in the beginning, I have to bring each of these thoughts before God, and God lets me reason it out to the best of my ability, before I ultimately don’t care. It becomes easy to let these thoughts fall off when I just want to be with God.
And as I sink into God’s presence, I have to face myself. The Light of God envelops from within. When we welcome the knowledge and love of God, we become exposed before Them. We see the ways we suppress and deny the movement of God within us and around us. The ways we hurt others and misuse our power. When we are in God’s presence, the ego is torn off its throne so that the spirit may be liberated.
From that space of repentance, the joy of the Lord becomes our strength. We meet the glory of Mercy, not without fury, but with the utmost determination to make things right. We receive grace, the power of the Spirit. At times, this leads me to pray in tongues, or cry. Most often, it leads me into deeper silence.
The thing is, this silence is not simply an individual act. Nor is it corporate contemplation. Together we welcome God’s humbling presence and hold each other in the Light. Through prayerful focus, we tear the veils of deception off ourselves and each other, and help one another lean into this Light and face God. We believe God is living, real, and among us. We believe the saints and our ancestors are living, real, and among us. They are working among us, speaking to us. Our silence is not simply about inner-peace, or feeling absolved, but it is Friendship, with God, one another, the communion of saints, all creation. It is our hope that this baptism of the Spirit, this experience of God’s kin-dom, a micro-apocalypse, forms us into Friends.
As we face God and heaven together, some of us will be led to pray out loud. Others will be led to share a vision, a revelation, a prophecy, a word that must be shared – sometimes a poem. Some of us will be led to encourage one another, to lift one another up before heaven. This space opens up our hearts.
From this space of silence, our community seeks greater harmony with each other and with the Spirit, and to indulge in the breadth of God’s love. From this space of silence, we hope to give space to the creativity and power of the Spirit.
“For, when I came into the silent assemblies of God’s people, I felt a secret power among them, which touched my heart; and as I gave way unto it I found the evil weakening in me and the good raised up…” Robert Barclay (1648-1690), early Quaker