In our meeting we have something called "afterthoughts," where if someone didn't get up the guts or wasn't sure something was really a strong enough leading to break the silence with they can share what they're thinking about right after meeting. It's a cool tradition, a good way to make sure everyone gets one last chance to be prompted by the Spirit, and also to give a space for people to share things they really want to share but that aren't necessarily Spirit-led.
So today during "afterthoughts," a member shared that he felt the silence of the meeting today (only one Friend shared) was sweeter than usual, had an unusual sense of depth. It's interesting how silence can feel full or empty, comfortable or scary, and how it can be a communal experience.
I love practicing silence. It draws me closer to God, and also to others present. I also like that it's so counter-cultural. It's opposite of our culture to just sit in a room with a bunch of other people and be still. I've been talking with my family about that lately, how for so many Americans it's normal to always have noise going: my sister's housemates always have the TV on, so many people at the coffee shop I work at come in wearing their iPods, and most people have music going as they drive and as they're at home. What's wrong with silence, I wonder? What makes it so scary to people?
I'm grateful to have been raised Quaker and to be comfortable and aware in the silence. I think it gives me heightened awareness of myself and those around me. It's vulnerable., and even if you're not really centered it still is a time of soul-searching, having to get in touch with where you're at in yourself. So I appreciate the silence, when it's deep and sweet like today, and even when it seems empty and distracted.