Making space to listen deeper
In a gathered MfWfB there is a deep stillness in which you can feel people listening attentively and actively – considering the matter before them and waiting to see where the Spirit will take the matter.
From this expectant worshipful silence, will come carefully discerned words and decisions. There can be slow careful discernment, and then occasionally the Spirit will move and the meeting will find itself making decisions or changing the direction of the discussion. Or the realisation that they need to pause for some time and come back to this matter at a later date.
This happened at Yearly Meeting – when the clerks felt that a couple of items were not at a point of unity and so were put to one side for later. This can be later in the same meeting if the MfWfB goes over several days, or can be until the next time that group meet. Clerks will write a holding minute (for more details about the types of minutes visit the Guide to Quaker Clerking at Woodbrooke).
But to be able to do this the clerks must be listening, alert to the body language and underlying currents of sound and feelings through the room.
Listening as a Spiritual Practice
It can be hard to explain the difference between a secular meeting where people are standing their ground, or coming to the meeting with their own agenda and expectations. A Quaker Meeting is where participants have put aside their egos and are instead listening as part of worship.
In the September 2020 edition of Friends Journal was an article entitled, ‘Listening as a Spiritual Practice‘ which quoted Baltimore Yearly Meeting as follows:
The author Alexandra Bell went on to say,
‘Speak as if God is listening. Listen as if God is speaking. Speak as if Spirit is speaking through you. Listen as if Spirit is listening through you.’
Good words for anyone as they prepare to either clerk or attend a Quaker Meeting for Worship for Business!