Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
I still refer to what I "do" in meeting as "waiting upon the Lord" even though I am not Christian.
If we consider a Quaker meeting as opening up three lines of communication, listening for what others might have to say, listening for what that of God within us might have to say, and giving others the opportunity to hear what we might say. Of course it is hard to draw boundaries between these lines of communication, but none of them happen so readily without the silence.
I see the silence of meeting as a vehicle that enables these things to happen. Without the silence these things can still take place, but the silence is preparing the way; making important communication more obvious and open to greater sharing . It's like laying a tablecloth before a meal, it somehow changes the everyday table into something different and, of course allowing food to be laid upon it. Silence prepares the members of the meeting, for something meaningful and important to happen.
Is it waiting? To my mind no more than the tablecloth is waiting for the food.
Hello again, Howard!
You wrote: It matters not whether we label who we are listening to as "the Light", "Christ", "God", or the "Greater Self".
I have continuing doubts about your attempt to disengage "experience" from "labels". I think that experience and how we conceptualize it, and thereby render it meaningful, are much more intimately bound together than you suggest. Experience becomes meaningful when we locate it in a conceptual framework by giving it a label.
The burning bush narrative is relevant to this discussion, but I am not enough of a theologian to grasp exactly what the relevance is.
You wrote: "Moses, after an intimate experience with God at the burning bush, needed to ask who it was that he was communing with. This demonstrated the human need for labels ("names", if you will) in order to fully enjoy intimacy with another. God's answer is also revealing when he said "I am that I am" (in Hebrew "Yahweh"). This indicates to me that from God's perspective, labels are not defining for him, since he is the "all" and simply IS."
This sounds good. Moses was trying to make sense of what he had witnessed. He was apparently experiencing what James Kugel, in *The God of Old*, has called a "moment of confusion". I would like to know what the "scribes" would have to say about the story and its implications for our discussion. Moses certainly got "stopped in his tracks", didn't he!?
I am also afraid that I have distracted you from the main thrust of your essay on "silent waiting", for which I apologize!