Silence

I don’t know what I might be led to write when I sit in front of my computer and try to move into a place where I can hear the Inner Light. What I’m hearing this morning seems disjointed, but I’m hearing many voices related to ‘silence’.

I think I am craving silence for renewal during these dark times full of incessant noise.

Worshiping in silence at Quaker meetings for worship is something I’ve done throughout my life.

I hadn’t reflected much on why we sought opportunities to be by ourselves in the mountains. It just seemed a much better experience that way. Now I think it was related to feeling closer to God when we were deep in the quiet of the forests. Having grown up in Quaker communities, I was used to worshiping in silence, as we do so we can hear the whisper of the Spirit. Being enveloped in the silence of the mountains was a natural extension of Quaker worship.

Spirit Walking in Tundra, Quakers, Social justice and Revolution, Jeff Kisling

As I am writing this I’m thinking of two separate meanings of silence. I don’t remember knowing about the terms ‘active’ and ‘passive’ silence but I have always know the concepts they represent. Passive silence relates to not speaking when there is a need to speak out. It is a way of hiding, or not engaging. Active silence relates to creating the conditions that will allow you to hear what the Spirit is saying to you. Silent Quaker meetings for worship, or individual meditation are examples of active silence.

The Silence=Death Project relates to passive silence.

They (Silence = Death Project) created the Silence=Death poster using the title phrase and a pink triangle, which during the 1970s had become a gay pride symbol reclaimed by the gay community from its association with the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.[4]

Silence = Death Project

“SILENCE = DEATH” today relates to years of silence related to environmental disaster and its crisis of conscience. We are rapidly heading toward the death of Mother Earth.

Because active silence is the core of Quaker meeting for worship, I’ve heard about this all my life. But recently I’ve been learning about Native spirituality and culture. That is one of the things I value most from sharing eight days, walking 94 miles, with a small group of Native and non native people, who became my friends. Every time we came to a place where we crossed over the Dakota Access pipeline as we walked together on the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March, we would stop and form a circle, and have some silence and prayer.

Alton and Foxy Onefeather

This has occasioned discovering new ways of thinking about silence.

But silence teaches in a way that nothing else can. The mind makes deep adjustments in the quiet times. True laughter bubbles up from humor too precious for words–and brings with it a joy that dissolves disappointment.

A Cherokee Feast of Days, Volume Two, March 31, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

The Warrior of the Light meditates. He sits in a quiet place in his tent and surrenders himself to the divine light. When he does this, he tries not to think about anything; he shuts himself off from the search for pleasure, from challenges and revelations, and allows his gifts and powers to reveal themselves. Even if he does not recognize them then, these gifts and powers will take care of his life and will influence his day-to-day existence. While he meditates, the Warrior is not himself, but a spark from the Soul of the World. Meditation gives him an understanding of his responsibilities and of how he should behave accordingly. A Warrior of the Light knows that in the silence of his heart he will hear an order that will guide him.

Coelho, Paulo. Warrior of the Light: A Manual (pp. 26-27). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

I’ve just begun reading “Neither Wolf nor Dog” by Kent Nerburn, which I’m very glad someone recommended. I can see why people value it.

“Your eyes are different, Nerburn,” he said. “You are looking farther.” He didn’t elaborate or say another word, but that phrase, with all its cryptic meaning, buoyed me like nothing else he had ever said.

One day Dan startled me with a full sentence. “You’re getting better with silence,” he said.
“I am?”
“I watch you.”
“I know.”
“You’re learning. I can tell because of your silence.”
I sensed that he had something to say. Dan did not make small talk when he was on his hill.
“We Indians know about silence,” he said. “We aren’t afraid of it. In fact, to us it is more powerful than words.”
I nodded in agreement.

“Our elders were schooled in the ways of silence, and they passed that along to us. Watch, listen, and then act, they told us. This is the way to live.

“Watch the animals to see how they care for their young. Watch the elders to see how they behave. Watch the white man to see what he wants. Always watch first, with a still heart and mind, then you will learn. When you have watched enough, then you can act.”
There was a silence.

“Indians have known this for a long time. We like to use it on you. We know that when you are in a room and it is quiet you get nervous. You have to fill the space with sound. So you talk right away, before you even know what you are going to say.

“Our elders told us this was the best way to deal with white people. Be silent until they get nervous, then they will start talking. They will keep talking, and if you stay silent, they will say too much. Then you will be able to see into their hearts and know what they really mean. Then you will know what to do.”

“You don’t convince anyone by arguing. People make their decisions in their heart. Talk doesn’t touch my heart.

“People should think of their words like seeds. They should plant them, then let them grow in silence. Our old people taught us that the earth is always speaking to us, but that we have to be silent to hear her.

“I try to be that way. I taught my children to be that way.”

He swept his hand out across the panorama in front of us. “Do you hear the sound of the prairie? That is a great sound. But when I’m talking I can’t hear it.

“There are lots of voices besides ours, Nerburn. Lots of voices.”

“Do you know what I do?” he said. “I listen to voices. For me this hill is so full of life I can never be quiet enough to hear all the voices.”

Nerburn, Kent. Neither Wolf nor Dog (p. 64). New World Library. Kindle Edition.
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