Friends General Conference

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Silence and Expectant Waiting

Photo by Seth Barch
Overview: 

This topic invites you to explore the Quaker experience of worship and silent waiting for an inward encounter. Shared worship is the foundation of the Friends’ experience of life as a spiritual community. We may worship or sit in silence alone, but we believe that in worshipping together we are opening ourselves to a more powerful experience. We are a mixed gathering of people from various backgrounds, and we are at many different places on our inward journey; however, all Friends aim to experience worship as a core element in their spiritual practice.

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For Facilitators: 

Successful facilitation creates opportunities for everyone to share and moves the group toward deep connection. Use these resources to learn more about leading a group through meetings for spiritual deepening.

Find course guides, videos, and other resources to plan your group's journey, create an inclusive space, and manage your time together.

Access resources for facilitators here.

Silence and Expectant Waiting Exercises

e.g. for an hour and a half, enter "90"

Grounding

Even our youngest Friends can learn to sit quietly in Meeting so that we will be able to hear the small voice when it speaks to us.

For Friends, Meeting for Worship is a center of gravity. It draws all to it. It provides a place to stand. It holds everything else in its right place. Quaker worship is a direct encounter with the Spirit of God.

Ground your work in scripture.

Quaker faith and practice can be compared and combined with a wide variety of other traditions such as Buddhism or ethical humanism. But we will find our deepest and fullest reasonaces with the biblical Christian traditions that nurtured early Friends and with the Jewish traditions that nurtured Jesus.

Ground your work in the voices of Friends.

Friends from George Fox to Bayard Rustin have written about Quaker faith and practice. What have Friends shared with us across the centuries?

Learn from Friends near and far through video and podcasts. From informational histories, to instructional guides, to deep ministry, we can use these media to learn more and build community. 

A query is a question for reflection. Queries can be used in worship sharing, discussions, or to prompt journaling or art activities.

Practicing

Activities like yoga, labyrinths, and mandalas are designed to help focus and calm the mind and body. Explore what happens in your mind and your body when you try simple yoga poses or use a finger labyrinth. 

30 minutes | All Ages | Newcomer Friendly

Take a visual approach to expressions of silence and expectant waiting by looking at and reflecting on images made by people exploring the topic. 

30 minutes | All Ages | Newcomer Friendly

The book What Does It Mean to Be Present? by Rana DiOrio demonstrates what it means to be present and how being present makes life “richer, fuller and happier.”  

45 minutes | Elementary (ages 6-11) | Newcomer Friendly

Explore how the body can be a tool to help us pray and experience closeness with the Divine wordlessly. 

20 minutes | All Ages | Newcomer Friendly

A guide to help participants use meditation and journaling to explore their own inward silence and the openings they may experience there.

30 minutes | Middle School and Up | Newcomer Friendly

What happens when we listen with intention? This activity helps us examine this question.

30 minutes | All Ages | Newcomer Friendly

A “tutorial” on dealing with distractions that may arise as an individual practices entering and exploring interior silence.

10 minutes | Middle School and Up | Newcomer Friendly

Hints for finding the stillness that can bring you a sense of the Divine presence in everyday places and events.

10 minutes | Middle School and Up | Newcomer Friendly

Guidance in learning to discern between the jumping voices of distraction in your head (sometimes called “monkey mind”) and the Divine voice. 

25 minutes | Middle School and Up | Newcomer Friendly

Learning to recognize prompts to connect with a loved person, and from that, with the Divine.

5 minutes | Middle School and Up | Newcomer Friendly

Learning to recognize opportunities for creating silent periods during your busy days. 

5 minutes | Middle School and Up | Newcomer Friendly

Similar to a guided meditation, this exercise offers a variety of ways to use the silence of worship. After trying these methods, participants will engage in worship sharing to explore how each worked and other ways and times they have been able to listen in the silence.

30 minutes | Elementary (ages 6-11) | Newcomer Friendly

This exercise is a game about listening and responding. It provides practice in being sensitive to the vocal and physical movements of just one other person. Frequently, before we can listen to that still small voice of God moving in a group, we need to learn to get out of ourselves and to tune in to others.

20 minutes | All Ages | Newcomer Friendly

Creating "mindfulness jars" to illustrate and practice the process of centering and being open to the Spirit in worship.

45 minutes | All Ages | Newcomer Friendly

This game is about listening. It provides practice in being sensitive to the vocal sounds of others in the room. Frequently, before we can listen to that still small voice of God moving in a group, we need to learn to get out of ourselves, to tune in to others.

20 minutes | All Ages | Newcomer Friendly

Credits

 

Brent Bill (WYM), Melinda Wenner Bradley (PhYM), and Marty Grundy (LEYM) - Content Collaborators

Anne Collins (SCYM), Sally Farneth (PhYM), Susan Hopkins (PacYM), and Erika Mittag (SCYM) -- Materials for Children