Pilgrimage - Story, Place, Spirit, Witness

Volume 33 Issue 3 Listening

Contributions to this issue explore various dimensions of listening: in an exchange with someone whose political views are very different, in the silence of a Quaker meeting, in the midst of challenges, like parenting, which can be anything but contemplative. Some of the voices you will encounter in the pages that follow talk about the physical act of listening, others delve into the kind of inward listening that has more to do with discernment or just being present. Deep listening requires attention, persistence, and lots of practice, but the rewards, as Gene Hoffman and other writers point out, can be rich indeed.

from Meeting for Worship by Sharman Apt Russell

It is three minutes past 10. Soon we are all sitting. We are all silent.
Each time, at every Quaker Meeting, I feel the same wonder. What prompts this group of people to sit and wait so expectantly, as though we were doing something important? Do any of us pray for a visiting god? Are we all thinking about peace and love? Are we trying to levitate? Or be more like a cat?
I can not say for sure since I do not know everyone here. But I think we are simply trying to be silent. Like Buddhists, we hope for the still mind. We notice our thoughts and let them go. We focus on our senses, the present moment. We believe faithfully that in a moment of listening, we will hear that small inner voice. Then we won’t be so lonely. We will feel a presence inside, surrounding us. We will know what we have always suspected. Eternal life is under the words.

photo credit: Cole Thompson (

Pilgrimage Magazine, published three times a year, emphasizes themes of place, spirit, peace & justice, in and beyond the Greater Southwest.

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