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Readings for Reflection: July 2003
from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel

On a Small Planet, Awaiting a Distant Signal

Recently I was talking with a neighbor and friend who had asked me about Quaker practices. He was particularly interested in why we sit down together in silence. I was doing my best to explain ideas like “centering down,” “listening worship,” and waiting for the “still, small Voice,” not at all sure that I was communicating the practice and intention of our silence.

I knew that I had met with some success, however, when he said, “Oh, is it like turning on your satellite dish, adjusting it toward the heavens, and waiting for a signal?”

Exactly! What a terrific image. It occurred to me as I thought more about that image of the receiver turned skyward, that it was also helpful to me in my struggles to define and understand faith.

Often, I feel envious of people who appear to have confident beliefs or have found comfortable homes within religious traditions and dogmas. I am also sometimes envious of those who have approached the practice of silence experimentally and have had profound personal or mystical experiences that have brought them to deep levels of convincement. Although I know that simply deciding to conduct the “experiment” is in itself an act of faith, the image of turning on and adjusting the dish to an inward setting may make that daily act of faith more tangible and perhaps also a little more light-hearted.

It certainly seems that waiting on the Light should be a joyful experience, filled with hope rather than striving and anxiety.

Ann Sprague, Detroit Friends Meeting

[republished with permission of the author, from the Detroit Monthly Meeting newsletter, April 2003]

All Readings for Reflection
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