South Bend Friends Meeting

First-Day Thoughts

In calm and cool and silence, once again

I find my old accustomed place among

My brethren, where, perchance, no human tongue

Shall utter words; where never hymn is sung,

Nor deep-toned organ blown, nor censer swung,

Nor dim light falling through the pictured pane!

There, syllabled by silence, let me hear

The still small voice which reached the prophet's ear;

Read in my heart a still diviner law

Than Israel's leader on his tables saw!

There let me strive with each besetting sin,

Recall my wandering fancies, and restrain

The sore disquiet of a restless brain;

And, as the path of duty is made plain,

May grace be given that I may walk therein,

Not like the hireling, for his selfish gain,

With backward glances and reluctant tread,

Making a merit of his coward dread,

But, cheerful, in the light around me thrown,

Walking as one to pleasant service led;

Doing God's will as if it were my own,

Yet trusting not in mine, but in His strength alone!

John Greenleaf Whittier, 1852

Teach us to sit still, 1989,

by Ron Waddams.

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A Friends meeting, however silent, is at the very lowest a witness that worship is something other and deeper than words, and that it is to the unseen and eternal things that we desire to give the first place in our lives. And when the meeting, whether silent or not, is awake, and looking upwards, there is much more in it than this. In the united stillness of a truly 'gathered' meeting there is a power known only by experience, and mysterious even when most familiar.

--Caroline Stephen

The Presence in the Midst, 1916 by J. Doyle Penrose