(Continued from this post.)
Shabbat is a time to leave the week's painful, annoying, boring truths aside. Escape from reality during services is always a good thing. But I've never been able to hide like this during meditation, which is just fine--I find comfort in having no choice but to be honest. And even though we sit in silence, eyes closed, I can always feel the power and support of the group just as when we're all singing--even more strongly, in some ways, without the presence of music to distract us from the one task at hand. The scale of this kind of prayer falls in a unique category, neither large nor small, a hybrid space of very different texture measured by the magnitude of our shared intentions rather than the size of the room or volume of our voices. A friend sent me a poem yesterday by John Greenleaf Whittier about Quaker Meeting for Worship which says, in words as measured as the breaths of meditation itself, just what I've been trying to express:
And so I find it well to come
For deeper rest to this still room
For here the habit of the soul
Feels less the outer world's control
The strength of mutual purpose pleads
More earnestly our common needs;
And from the stillness multiplied
By these still forms on either side,
The world that time and sense have known
Falls off and leaves us God alone.
Wishing everyone a Shabbat during which the word truly falls off for 25 hours, leaving only the peace of deepest rest and God alone.