Thought for the Week: What soft silence wills

Freya Blyth reflects on a powerful Meeting for Worship

The Meeting we experienced as a group on the Sunday morning of Young Friends General Meeting (held 26-28 May) was nothing short of profound. It has been described since as the single most powerful Meeting of someone’s life, and had a deep impact on all who attended.

How can I begin to document the movement of the Spirit through the sunshine casting streamers around the room? The present oneness we aim for has, for me, never been so tangible. It began with a duality that was held throughout the worship, that of sadness and of joy, the ability of the Meeting to uphold one another and, in perfect unity, balance the concepts of life and death.

We all aim to understand the theories mentally, and I believe a large part of our spiritual journey is also to hold seeming contradictions in balance with each other. We are here and must be present, and yet are only half here and belong not in this world. To fear God and yet be unafraid. To not worry about anything and yet remain aware of what we must pray for. This is what we all aim to grow into: a greater spiritual understanding and deeper knowledge of what we already know.

The Meeting started with an opening ministry acknowledging the sadness in the room due to the sudden death of a member and the welcome of her family joining us in the Meeting. There were collective gasps and it was clear that this news had not fully circulated. In that moment we drew together as one; one body of pain, one family in God. The grief left no part of the body untouched. We felt the shock ricochet round the room and begin to seep into the blood of the Meeting. Many of us there were young Friends scattered across the country and had not known the Friend for whom we now mourned, and yet this did not stem our grief.

The young daughter of the light who had passed stood and gave an extraordinary ministry, clutching tight to her husband’s hand for physical support while drawing on the Meeting’s collective strength to speak. Her voice broke as she spoke of her mother’s heart for Quakers and the care and nurture she had found there; of love. As we grieved, we reached out. In our weakness we cried out for the source and through our silence we were answered. Ministries came pouring out, those of life and joy intermingling with those of what it is to experience loss.

Through the Spirit, words swept out of corners of my consciousness and formed a poem that I spoke as ministry, reflecting the journey of the Meeting that morning. Written in the moment I hope it captures something of the essence of what we experienced there that May morning.

When in the soft silence,
Sadness comes and bows her head,
When light must fade
Into eve,
The time when living mourn the dead.

When my heart is open,
Weakness will rise
I shall look for heaven
And lift my eyes.

In the blackest of night
I shall search for the moon,
Sing the praises yet still
Of what I know to be true.

The soft and the silence
Beckons me still,
Yet now there is space
For an echo of
Thy Will.

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