Last night Serenity and I went to the Quaker Worship Group in Livermore. Because of traffic we drove over the back roads on the way there, we left Tracy early so we had time to stop off at Mr. Pickle’s and have a quick sandwich for dinner before the worship time.
When we arrived there were two women there, one was sitting down in a circle of chairs and the other was putting out some pamphlets and books and cookies on a table for after the meeting. We said "hi" and mentioned we were new and had never been to a Quaker Meeting before and sat down. Eventually there were 4 women along with me and Serenity. After we said hi on our way into the circle no one said a word, each additional person just came in and sat down quietly in the circle. We could hear crickets outside and an occasional car going by on College Avenue. There was also the sound of a ticking clock somewhere behind me but I had no time keeping device visible to me to track the passage of time. Very quickly I began to relax into the silence, breathing deeply and trying to be open to the Spirit, whatever that might mean.
The silence went on and on, occasionally someone would cough or clear their throat and I thought they were going to speak, but no, no words were spoken then. There was a bit of rearranging of feet and hands that made slight sounds but no words. Finally one woman began to speak of having come across the Prayer of St. Francis that begins “Lord make me an instrument of your peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love…” She said that she put it in her purse and had been meditating on the first lines. She especially liked the idea that you had to sow love, that love doesn’t just happen but you must actively work to plant and grow it. After that the silence returned once more and not another word was said until finally the person who had spoken stood up and then we all stood and held hands for a moment before sitting back down. At that point they went around the circle and introduced themselves, then it was cookie time and chatting about different things. I was amazed to look at my phone then and realize we had sat in silence for an hour, the time had not seemed to exist. I know from experience trying to sit in silence alone the time seems to drag, it didn’t here, very strange and cool.
I think that we will be going back, Serenity said that she enjoyed it as well... plus... there were COOKIES!