Thought for the Week: Holding in the Light

Jane Taylor reflects on holding people in the Light

Since my early years I have had a sense that there was a universal presence which, back then, I thought of as, for instance, looking after ‘all ponies everywhere’. I didn’t directly relate these ideas to going to church with my family – which happened most Sundays; but when in my teens I was given a book during my confirmation classes called In the Presence, the title itself spoke to my condition. I have no recollection, though, of any of the content of that little book. In later years, during dark and difficult times, I have linked this ‘presence’ to that wonderful phrase: ‘and underneath are the everlasting arms’. Yet I don’t relate this ‘presence’ to an anthropomorphic ‘God’. Always, however, I have had the sense that this presence is always there – whether or not I am aware of it; and, of course, most of the time I am not!

Years before I came across Quakers (in my mid-forties) I became aware of the expression ‘aura’ – meaning something like an energy field around a person.

On the subject of aura and presence in Meeting, I have to admit that during Meeting I spend a certain amount of time in my head writing shopping lists, or planning the coming week, or I try to sit as one does in the yoga sitting-up-straight pose Dandasana. Or – as some Lancaster Friends may be aware – I do occasionally doze off a bit. It’s not that I actually snore, or fall off my seat (though sometimes it’s a pretty near thing), but certainly from time to time my concentration lapses. However, at other times I find myself intensely engaged in the silence. Then I may sense that each Friend’s aura is shimmeringly present – and touching and merging with those of all others around them. Then the whole of the Meeting room becomes a vibrant experience of great spiritual energy – all, it seems, sharing in the same intense presence.

What about spiritual energy and ‘holding in the Light’? If one of my friends is in great joy, or in a very difficult place, I often say to them that I will hold them in the Light. If this friend is a very secular type I may just say that I will be thinking of them. No one actually asks me what I mean by ‘holding in the Light’; and until recently I’ve not really asked myself either. However, I am now trying to tease out just what I mean – and what is the process of doing so. Like Meeting, when often not much happens for me in the silence, so with ‘holding in the Light’: sometimes it seems to be no big deal spiritually – not much more than holding someone in my mind, and in my heart.

At other times, however, it is an intensely powerful experience. It seems as if I am making a living spiritual connection with that person’s own spirituality; and this is regardless of distance, regardless of whether that person is aware that I am ‘thinking of them’, or not; and regardless of whether they would have any understanding of it anyway. Often I will hold not just an individual in the Light but their whole situation; or I may focus just on a situation, be it very small – or international. Whatever the focus, the same feeling of spiritual intensity, of spiritual engagement, happens – on a good day.

Were it that my spiritual engagement, and awareness of this great presence which is everywhere, for all of us, at all times was not so fleeting, but my constant experience.

Obviously, I need to work on it!

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