Quaker Mode

“How does the Truth fare with thee?”
Early Friends asked each other by way of greeting.
On First Day morning,
I took a seat in a rural Pennsylvania meeting house made of native stone
And put my I-Phone into Quaker mode, to join the silence
Of Friends with their feet on ancient floorboards
That have taught them patience and equanimity since 1798.
It was a silence that surrounded the sounds
Of an old man struggling to clear his throat,
People shifting their weight on creaking wooden pews,
And the ceaseless chirring of locusts in the forest outside.
It was a silence pervading the gaps
Between thoughts, feelings, urges;
A long, rich silence that surrounded the lives of Friends present
As well as those who had passed into the adjoining graveyard.
Silence beyond sound and its absence,
Seeking to know the Knower,
Settling thoughts into proper places,
Discerning Truth about what is
From wishes about what might be,
Sorting good intent from bad,
Gently holding tongues
Rather than bridling them.
When Spirit moved, a Friend rose and spoke her piece,
Then sat in peace.
The chirring of the insect chorus rose, fell, swelled, faded, and rose again,
Like the flow of minds made more mindful
By waiting upon the Lord.
Yet this was a living, not a waiting, room:
A pregnant emptiness,
A weighty void,
A convivial clearing
Making room for awareness of Truth.

 

JIM BURKLO
Website: JIMBURKLO.COM Weblog: MUSINGS Follow me on twitter: @jtburklo
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Associate Dean of Religious Life, University of Southern California

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