E is for Experience

I was asked: What is the ground of your faith as a Friend? Experience, I replied. However many words we use or don’t use, I believe that the essential thing about the Quaker Way is the experience. When I sit in silent expectant waiting with Friends something happens. Sometimes I am not even aware of it at the time, other times I am dramatically or uncomfortably aware of the spirit moving. Over the years I have learnt a lot, and have been changed, by allowing the spirit to move in me. And I keep coming back for more. I also read, discuss, debate and listen. Those are all good ways to learn, to share and to increase our understanding. But the ground of my faith is the experience of meeting for worship.

Barmoor sitroom

I can then go and read extracts from George Fox’s journal and find evidence of the same: ‘Thus, when God doth work who shall let (ie hinder) it? And this I knew experimentally.’ QF&P 19.02, but this is similar to that which Fox also says: ‘This I saw in the pure openings of the Light without the help of any man, neither did I then know where to find it in the Scriptures; though afterwards, searching the Scriptures, I found it.’ QF&P 19.04. That is, I can find others reporting the same experience, but it is the experience that comes first.

Having said this, I commend to you that you might try sitting in silent expectant waiting with other Quakers. Opportunities to do so (in Britain at least) can be located by visiting the Quakers in Britain website and using the ‘Find a Quaker meeting’ search box.

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