Silence is a curious thing…

Silence is a curious thing. It is not by any means merely the absence of noise, but a stripping away of much that occupies our waking minds – thought, conclusion, classification, knowing. We operate in definitions, boundaries, alternatives, and what we encounter in silence lies beyond all distinctions.

We sit in meeting for worship, held in the presence of Friends, or alone, our minds quietened with our own practice, be it watching our breath, or something like the Jesus Prayer, and our discursive, directed mind falls away to a background murmur (or gabble, if we’re having a bad day!) to leave a brilliant darkness, an unknowing awareness that is permeable to the Spirit; it is a place where we may find ourselves exclaiming, with Jacob (Genesis 28.16), “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!”

More and more I am convinced that to remain hidden (Colossians 3.3) with Christ in God, unknowing, is at least for me the narrow path to God’s own presence, where even our own steps are unknown to us (Proverbs 20.24); God who is entirely beyond our own comprehension, whose name can only be a pointer, as Jennifer Kavanagh says, to something beyond our description. In silence itself is our hiddenness, our unknowing, where God waits within our own waiting (Isaiah 30.18)…

4 thoughts on “Silence is a curious thing…

  1. Tom E

    Very interested by your selection of biblical quotations, Mike. I have often been struck by the fact that different churches/groups within Christianity (or Judaism) are very selective in terms of where they get their material. Since biblical quotation is nowadays not what it was, there is probably little conscious selection of this sort any longer – I don’t know. Looking at earlier generations of Friends, as an example, it seems they had a peculiar fondness for books of the old testament beginning with H! Hebrews, Habakkuk, Hosea, etc. Would make an interesting study…..

    1. Mike Farley Post author

      Now there’s a thought, Tom. I have to confess that I do like the ‘H’ books you’ve mentioned, too! But the texts in my present post were just ones that occurred to me as I was writing, rather than being a starting place. The real starting place was a conversation with a priest I know about the stripping away of thoughts and attachments as a precondition for prayer, or certain sorts of prayer…


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