“Happy Birthday,” I croaked to friends being honored at a party recently. Four days earlier, my head cold had turned into laryngitis. My throat burned from days of coughing, and when I tried to talk, all that came out was a squeak.  But I didn’t want to miss this celebration to honor three friends with November birthdays, so I went to the potluck and uttered few words.
There’s nothing like laryngitis to give you a lesson in listening.
Conversations swirled around me. I knew that I couldn’t respond or interject my thoughts and opinions, so I just listened.  For once, my mind wasn’t doing double duty of processing others’ words while formulating my own. Well, OK, I did think of some snappy retorts I would have made if I’d had a voice. But all I could do was nod, shake my head, or smile.
I remained silent. And listened.  I realized that I was hearing the voices of several of my friends who often are less talkative. And because I wasn’t planning replies, I heard them in some new ways.
“Listening is at the core of Quaker faith and practice,” writes Michael Wajda in the Pendle Hill pamphlet, Expectant Listening. In the silence of worship, we gather together to listen for the “still small voice” of God. It’s my chance to listen to the Divine with no requirement that I reply. To take in that Presence in silence—kind of like being at a dinner party with laryngitis.
Caroline Stephen, a 19th Century Quaker (and the aunt of Virginia Woolf), writes, “The silence we value is not the mere outward silence of the lips.”  Losing my voice after my cold took care of that part.
But, as Stephen reminds, “…in order to hear the divine voice thus speaking to us we need to be still.” Whether at Quaker meeting or in my daily practice of “expectant listening,” the silencing of the lips is just the first step toward the stillness that opens me to God’s voice. There’s often plenty of internal noise that continues—lists of tasks to do, worries about friends or family, self-criticism. 
Now, if I could just have laryngitis of the voice in my head. 
image credit - Yardley (PA) Friends Meeting

Views: 162

Comment by Tina Coffin on 1st mo. 19, 2013 at 11:57am

Iris, Would you let me print this blog post in a small publication for Quakers in Arkansas? my name is Tina Coffin and you can reach me at carillontc@aol.com

Comment

You need to be a member of QuakerQuaker to add comments!

Join QuakerQuaker

Support Us

Did you know that QuakerQuaker is 100% reader supported? If you think this kind of outreach and conversation is important, please support it with a monthly subscription or one-time gift.


You can also make a one-time donation.

Latest Activity

Kirby Urner posted a video

Promised Land

In the School of Tomorrow, we learn how to think globally before acting locally. Here's a link to the 'Tower of Babel' video I mention in passing: http://www...
23 hours ago
Windy Cooler posted a video

Releasing Ministry Alliance Opps 1 Under the Care of final

“Under the Care of” July 10, 2019 8-9 pm Eastern time What does holding a ministry “under the care of” a meeting entail? Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting (Baltim...
yesterday
Keith Saylor posted a blog post

A Different ministration of Life in relation to others.

I am encouraged and grateful my research into early Quakers is revealing many people within the…See More
7th day (Sat)
Kirby Urner posted a video

Happy Birthday Bucky

July 12 is Buckminster Fuller's birthday. Here's a "Quaker rant" to celebrate.
7th day (Sat)
Windy Cooler updated their profile
5th day (Thu)
Windy Cooler posted photos
5th day (Thu)
Kirby Urner posted a blog post

A Patriotic Speech

I mention my Quaker ethnicity in this one. I'm sharing my sense of history. For related videos,…See More
7th month 9
Kirby Urner commented on Kirby Urner's blog post 'Journaling a Departure'
"I mention leaving the Facebook group somewhat obliquely in this video below, in which I share about…"
7th month 8

© 2019   Created by QuakerQuaker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service