Words fall far short…

Whenever we are driven into the depths of our own being, or seek them of our own will, we are faced by a tremendous contrast. On the one side we recognise the pathetic littleness of our ephemeral existence, with no point or meaning in itself. On the other side, in the depth, there is something eternal and infinite in which our existence, and indeed all existence, is grounded. This experience of the depths of existence fills us with a sense both of reverence and of responsibility, which gives even to our finite lives a meaning and a power which they do not possess in themselves. This, I am assured, is our human experience of God.

John Macmurray, Quaker Faith & Practice 26.11

We have realised from the beginning, in our Meetings for Worship, that words fall far short of what is true, and that that Light, that Truth, can only be found, and allowed to hold us, and known, in silence. And yet we are human, and so words haunt us. We want to do things with what we experience, and so we name things about it, and pretend we can carry out operations on it, since we can construct sentences where the verbs act on the nouns we have employed – and there are other nouns too, to name ourselves, whom we dream are the ones doing the acting.

But we only dream. It is we who are done with. We are born, we grow, and we age and die, and none of us by taking thought can change anything about that. (Luke 12.25) All we can do is wait, and listen.

Give over thine own willing, give over thy own running, give over thine own desiring to know or be anything and sink down to the seed which God sows in the heart, and let that grow in thee and be in thee and breathe in thee and act in thee; and thou shalt find by sweet experience that the Lord knows that and loves and owns that, and will lead it to the inheritance of Life, which is its portion.

Isaac Penington, 1661, in Quaker Faith and Practice 26.70

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