What does silence do for you?

Portadown Friends’ Meeting House GMcQ photo

For me sitting in the silence is an adventure into the inner world, not only my own but that of the universe. At a workshop today we were asked to choose two photos that spoke of our experience when in Quaker worship.

I chose two photos one similar to the one following;

gj archives Luton cemetery

When I sit down in a Quaker meeting or indeed designate time to ‘go in’ I begin where I am and travel inwardly to a place far beyond the reach of this earth, the world of the spirit. Once I have travelled and the road ends I am like the fish returning to water or the cage birded flying free.

The other picture, the closest of which I have, looks similar to the one below;

The River Tay / GJ archives

I chose initially a more dark and dismal scene of a wanderer with the world before him though decided that my journeys in the spirit are always positive and affirmative so I chose one that reflected those characteristics.

The train journey to the workshop was not so positive or was it? We were delayed somewhere between Mill Hill and Hendon. As I sat I thought, “Do I get bothered or do I take each moment as it comes” I decided the latter. The positive was all the passengers started talking, something that rarely happens on this line.

At Friends’ House we were using a small room yet at lunchtime the place was full of people, people who seemed to be embracing each other with a hug. They were diverse possibly more diverse than I had ever seen at any event. So I am wandering through them with two others from my group thinking about what socialist group or world policy group or these guys from only to be surprised when I saw the Narcotics Anonymous (NA) banner.

At the end we had a short time of worship during which I had this dialogue going on in my head. An angel shows George Fox, the leading 17th Century Quaker, Friends’ House with many people being in. “Look George,” the angel says, “This is 2017 and the place is full.” George is delighted until the Angel says, “ These people aren’t Quakers they are from NA.”

I suppose the point of that dialogue was to demonstrate that the spirit is boundless and works through whoever is receptive to it. NA like many of the ‘The 12 step programmes’ has within it a belief in what they term, ‘A Higher Power’. Few of these guys may make it to a Quaker meeting other than the NA meeting in a Quaker Hall though they have discovered something quite powerful. In their need for help to change their lives, they have found NA and in so doing they have become part of a fellowship of people from an array of backgrounds.

We may not all be addicted to drugs but many of us seek change in our lives. I think we would do well to model some of what NA does, that is, to make people desiring change in their lives welcome in our ‘changing rooms’.

It reminded me that a few years ago when I was part of a Sunday Night Circle at Rosslyn Hill Chapel we had an NA meeting happening in the church hall. Often people seeking NA would wander into our meeting, it did look similar though at some point either they or we realised they were looking for NA. I once had to get some chairs from the room that NA was using and was surprised to see 60 odd people in the room, we had no more than 20.

Yokunda’s students once said to him, “There are people over there using your name!” (implying it was not for them to use) to which he said, “If they are not against us they are for us.”





Speaks with a Northern Irish accent, lives in Hertfordshire, England.

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Gordie Jackson

Gordie Jackson

Speaks with a Northern Irish accent, lives in Hertfordshire, England.

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