Twice a day, the FMC community gathers in “collection,” a time of silence in the tradition of Quaker worship. Sometimes people speak out of the silence, and sometimes collection is silent all the way through. In the first few days of camp, we ask people to speak about how they see collection, what they do during it, and how they use the silence, so that newcomers can understand the tradition better. Many times these thoughts are also inspiring to those of us who have sat through many collections and Quaker meetings. This morning, staff member Clyde Tipton shared his thoughts with us, and I have asked to include his words here. I regret that I cannot replicate his deep tone and melodic way of speaking in this post, but you’ll have to imagine it.
“Collection: getting together to practice silence and stillness.This goes back to George Fox and early Quakerism; its roots go back to the middle ages and monks in monasteries, and to Zen Buddhism and even earlier and show us that silence has been greatly valued from way back.
“Everyone has silence inside them but in our busy fast achievement oriented world many have not discovered it. Silence connects with wholeness, essence, spirit and God in the larger sense. Silence is a way of allowing your deeper mind to speak to you. We all need it so we can see how life fits together and be in touch with the center, the source of all that is. Tagore says, ‘The nature of reality is the unity of its diversity.’
“To be still you must welcome silence. Once a psychologist told me how to get my busy and frustrated mind to be still when it was in great turmoil. It worked! You have to find your own way to stillness. Thick Naht Hanh says, ’embrace your interference.’
“Last, a John Cage quote: ‘The purpose of music is to still the mind, and make it susceptible to divine influences.'”
I hope you will find some time for stillness in your day as we do here.