Sunday, 8 July 2012

Reflections on a Theme of Silence

Leader: Phil


·       Today there are only a few of us but it gives us an opportunity to do something different
·       We’ll be reflecting on silence. 
·       This could be a very short and quiet time together, but silence is more than an absence of what happens when words run out.

Conserving Silence

·       Isaiah 34:11-13; 35: 7-9a
·       When Anna and I were house-hunting we came across a house in Highams Park on Sky Peal road.  Huge house by Epping Forest with a forest gate at the bottom of the garden.  But blighted by noise of road.
·       Conservations talk a lot about endangered species but silence itself is endangered.  Defra maps shows noise pollution [picture 1 – noise map, from]. Shared quiet spaces are in retreat.
·       Our reading from Isaiah shows a two-way process
·       Can anyone guess what [picture 2’( Coptic forest ) is?
·       Ethiopian Orthodox Church preserves forests around their churches as pictures of Eden.  Known as Coptic forests.  Planted to prevent prayers being lost to the sky.  Churches surrounded by sounds (silence) of the forest.  Creates a haven for creatures and clean springs where 95% of forest felled.  35,000 forest like that in Ethiopia. 
·       What would it mean if every church adapted the same principle around our places of  worship.  Some positive UK examples in old churchyards

The Wild Wood

·       Silence not just what happens in absence of noise.  Refers to listening (attentiveness) as well as what we hear or don’t hear in the outside word.  Bloom p.108
·       Many different kinds of silence: quiet of a Quaker meeting, an awkward silence, a pregnant pause, silence that gives depth to words (Bloom p.6), silence that happens when people are afraid to speak up, birding stillness, silence of space, silence of a place far from human settlement – only the sound of wind and water, a contested silence (e.g. Friars garden).  Silence can be restful, inspiring but also frightening.  Silence in forest.
·       Maitland reading p.173  and [picture 3 - ratty]
·       Also in Lord of Rings – watchful, unsettling silence in forest 
·       Silence exists not only in space but in time.  Silence of a forest is older than we are. 
·       This is a wild silence. Wild, wilderness – beyond our control.  Silence is untamed by words. 

Finding Ourselves in Silence

·       Anabaptist tradition is largely community minded.  Peaceable like Quakers but noisier. 
·       Not wholly true in first generation. 
·       Means we have something to learn from traditions that have an emphasis on silence (Quakers and Trappists)
·       Maitland Reading p.155  [Picture 4 – Henry Thoreau  - Walden]
·       Silence and solitude good to get priorities straight – to know what’s important
·       Early monks went out in desert – found themselves in silence
·       They went to meet God and themselves (demons)
·       Our world is a human construction.  Based on lies – that we can exist on our own.  Silence and solitude teaches us how we are ‘related’ and who we are.