Roger Iredale reflects on the experience of Meeting for Worship
We make our way through wind, rain, sun and snow to an unadorned room where we sit facing inwards. Slowly, calmly, we become aware of other presences as the light falls on faces and hands around us. For each of us the Meeting settles into stillness. As the atmosphere deepens, we may feel moved to share our inner thoughts and feelings, or we may all by mutual consent remain silent.
What is this silence, and what is it for? What does it create in us who are present and listening? How does it interact with the sounds coming from outside, whether traffic or birdsong, raindrops on the window, or the peal of thunder? What collective vision does it inspire in those who have come to share?
We focus on the present moment as it passes fleetingly round us. We centre on our place in the hierarchy of existence, from our individual importance to those touched by our life, through to our microscopic relationship to the colossal creation manifested in the universe with its billions of light years, constellations and darkness. We try to see ourselves as we relate to our companions and to the challenging world, surrounding us with its complexities, injustices, challenges and inequalities.
We seek the grace to accept our weaknesses and failures. We try to reconcile anxiety with inner peace. We swim in a calm current of time that we scarcely acknowledge, any more than a fish is aware of the water it swims in. Our identity is merged with the spirit of the Meeting and our worship is an act of faith in the concentrated power of being there.
This does not preclude the concept of a personal deity, if that is important to us. But it enables each of us to locate ourselves on a wider perspective and to gather strength and harmony from our common cause and mutual support. The ‘gathered’ Meeting is a force that draws upon the emotions and experience of all those present, weaving each awareness into an indefinable togetherness that transcends and refreshes for a moment the banal progression of daily life.
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