by Rev. Dan Dennis
Are you familiar with the Quaker custom of beginning a meal with silence? A non-Quaker youth was invited for a meal in a Quaker household. The youngster did not know the Quaker practice of silent preparation for dinner. He related this story: “There was this embarrassing silence when we first sat down at the table. Nobody knew what to say, and everybody looked down, so I told a funny story and that seemed to break the ice!”
The season of Lent has been a time to listen to God, and silence is essential for this. Jesus himself needed time for silence away from the crowds. Unfortunately, silence is a rare commodity, so we don’t deal with it much better than that young man.
In contrast, the Psalmist writes: “Be still and know that I am God.” The late Mother Teresa observed, “God rarely is found in the midst of noise and restlessness; instead, God is the friend of silence.”
Richard Nixon, himself a Quaker, remembered learning about silence. “When I was eight or nine years old,” he said, “I asked my grandmother why it was that Quakers believed in silent prayer. When we sat down to the table, we always had silent prayers; and at church we often just sat and prayed. My grandmother said, ‘What thee must understand, Richard, is that the purpose of prayer is to listen to God, not to talk to God. The purpose of prayer is not to tell God what thee wants, but to find out from God what God wants from thee.’”
Is it possible for you and me to experience silence? Can we quiet our internal dialogues, rationalizations and excuses? If so, God may have a word for us!
From Good Friday until Sunrise on Easter morning, try silence and listen for God to speak to you. The momentum will build as you come to the celebration “He’s Risen.” He is risen indeed!
Note: Something is amiss if Christian people are not in church during Holy Week and on Easter! Therefore, I know I will see you there!
Rev. Dan Dennis