From experiences of deep collective silences, Quakers are often led to speak to the needs of those present at silent meetings for worship. Regular attendees to silent meetings for worship are often amazed at how Quaker elders can accurately speak to the circumstances of those present. When there’s what friends call a “gathered meeting” there’s a visceral sense of God’s presence. When a seasoned friend is able to channel God’s presence with some well placed words it can pierce the heart. During meeting for worship, a Friend’s words have often spoken to my condition in a fresh and startling way. Sometimes all my games and pretenses fell away in an instant and the naked truth jabbed me in the ribs.
During these revelations, it’s not the spoken words that open windows of perception and shed new light. Another person in the meeting may hear the exact same words and get a different message. The only way I can explain the nature of revelation in a gathered meeting is “Holy Spirit.” Something about the way the words coincide with a memory or the light through the window or the tingle in the arm sets off a particular train of thought that would derail under any other circumstances. At gathered meetings there’s a sense of expanded consciousness—of piercing pre-rational intelligence. Sometimes all the points of light in the meeting converge to form a dense beam that lays bare an aching problem that’s begged resolution for weeks, months, years.
Pre-rational expanded awareness at gathered meetings can put a finger on exactly what needs redress. These lightning flash insights are a revelation of God’s word for us, which is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints and marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).