Reflections on the silence of eternity

Margaret Heath writes

In our series of evening conversations at the Meeting House Alison and I were invited to introduce the topic ”Why silence?” I referred to the hymn Dear Lord and Father of Mankind often sung at funerals as well as on other occasions which includes the lines “Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee, The silence of eternity, Interpreted by love.”

This led to interesting correspondence. The hymn is written by the American Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier, and is part of a much longer poem.

The “foolish ways” to which the writer refers were the practice of attempting to reach God by eating mushrooms which induced hallucinations, which had become all too popular. The Quaker view, voiced by many leading writers, is that God can best be reached by silent listening to discern his will and that this should lead to action.

Margaret Heath and friends at Fairfield House recently (photo: Paul Clarke)

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