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What is it about the silence?

Updated: Mar 8

On Sunday mornings, Quakers worship in an hour of what we call unprogrammed worship. That means nothing planned in advance: no sermon, vocal prayer, liturgy, response of reading, or other forms of worship we’re used to in other churches.

I was raised Congregational, now UCC, in Maine, and there are times I miss hearing a message. Having someone “in charge.” Singing familiar hymns together. I love all that and have always found the presence of Spirit there but for me, the church of my youth has now become sweet and sentimental. I always want more silence. (With Spirit “in charge.”)


I’ve attended various religious services over the years from Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist to various Protestant churches. In each place, I’ve always found a sense of Spirit. I’ve always been moved to be among a congregation of believers and seekers. But I always long for more silence. Worshipping with others in the stillness of a Quaker Meetinghouse feels like coming home plain & simple to the reality of Spirit.


To me, silence is the essence of spirituality. But it isn’t just something we access one hour a week; it can be a daily awareness of the Presence as we go about mundane chores, drive to appointments, or meet with friends.


Pockets of silence slip into our busy days when our hearts can be receptive to what some people call “God moments” and others call the in-breaking of Spirit.


However we find it, silence is refreshment for our souls. It restores us to our true beings. It reminds us who we are and as someone said, “Whose we are.” It’s sometimes hard to sneak silence into our scheduled lives, but as we become more drawn to it, we seek out or—become aware of—those moments more and more. We love our families & friends. Adore seeing grandchildren. Keep up the daily tasks that life requires of us. Participate in faith communities, neighborhood, or work. But in between our doing, we find ourselves seeking more & more those moments of “being.” A pause. A surge of gratitude. An appreciation of the world around us.


Our lives are made more whole by these moments and we feel a peacefulness in our inner beings that can’t help but radiate outward. “You are the Light of the world,” said Jesus, and sometimes we get a glimpse of what that can mean.



Ellie Caldwell


The Palm Beach Quaker Meeting invites you to share Silent Worship with us in a Spirit-filled space that has welcomed worshippers since 1958, regardless of race, gender identity, or nationality.


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