Holy Silence

“Holy Silence” [1] by J. Brent Bill is a wonderful journey into Quaker Silence. Silence is a good teacher. God is in the silence waiting to teach us. Unfortunately we are afraid of silence. We do not realize that silence will nourish our soul.

Let me highlight a few key points from this powerful book that jumped out at me. To be honest, there were just too many points I wanted to highlight. You will need to read the book for yourself so you can find the rest of them.

“Quaker silence is filled with expectation—expectation that God will speak.” We must take the time to practice this silence. God will speak to us when we show up. “Holy silence is there for us anytime we need or want it.”

Who is this silence for? “The amazing thing is that this silence is for every one—harried mother, busy businessperson, or frenetic teen.” We think we do not qualify to sit in silence. We are not religious enough. We are not schooled with the right education. Nonsense. That has nothing to do with it. The light is in each one of us. Sit in silence with this light. See what happens.

“Holy silence infuses us with God’s spirit and power so that we can live faithfully in life’s common ventures: youth, adulthood, marriage, work, family, illness, and death.” Silence spawns action. It is within the silence that we best discern how to live our lives. “The silence calls us to ask, “What does God want?””

“When we get quiet and still together, we create a space for God to work within us personally and communally.” There is something very powerful about sitting in silence communally. If you have never done so, you must. I once sat in an old meeting house. I sat with 100, including children. Silence in community is powerful!

“But even a silence junkie like me needs to remember that spiritual silence takes effort and intentionality.” Yes. We must show up no matter how difficult it is. “One reason that being quiet is hard is that it’s not a part of our lives. We’re not used to it.” “We like noise because it shows action.” It is a discipline. We must show up. Enter silence. This is God’s classroom.

“Silence moves us from difficult self-examination, to healing, to relaxing in God’s presence.” If we let it, silence will transform us. Silence will reveal our innermost thoughts. Silence will heal us. Silence will help us relax in God’s loving presence.

“If Jesus sensed the need for silence, then I need to learn how to sense this need, too.” I am a centering prayer practicer. Quaker silence is a terrific complement to my centering prayer practice. Quaker silence is yet another way to meet God in the silence. Silence is not empty. It is filled with God. If you are a lover of silence, I encourage you to read “Holy Silence”.

[1] J. Brent Bill, Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality, (Paraclete Press: 2005)


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1 thought on “Holy Silence”

  1. Thanks for the reminder, Rich. I’ve experienced sitting with Friends in a meeting in silence. Awe-inspiring, yes. Self-examination? Yes, again. And, freeing. I can’t attend a Meeting on Sunday morning because I lead another Congregational church, but I do remember the spacious experience.

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