Putting silence beside peace is often done, even without meditation. Silence is related to peace, but equally related may be pain or anxiety or fear or loneliness or freedom or constriction. The choice depends on one's character or state of mind and the matrix of events. Certainly silence is necessary as one centres in meditation and prayer or concentrates on a delicate operation.
There is, however, no certainly of peace in the mere absence of noise and confusion, unless a particular spirit enters into the act of concentration during any form of worship. The forms of worship that I have experienced include Catholic, Protestant, Orthodow, Jewish, and a few meditations of the Hindu and Buddhist types, but I have most often found fruits of spiritual peace in the silent worship practised by Quakers.
There is no Quaker worthy of that name who does not seek to translate the sum of peace enjoyed in worship into activity to bring real peace to his neighbour. The first duty of whoever enjoys the privilege of peace is to bring its fruit to whoever lacks it - our neighbour unpeaceful because of war, inner conflict, injustice, misery, repression, folly, illness or imprisonment. The divine gift of peace which passes all understanding must not become an ego trip - must not lead us to retire from the world and become indifferent to the various forms of non-peace suffered by our neighbour.
It would be enough to remember all those moments - and surely they must be innumerable - in which all of us have lacked peace and eagerly accepted the offer of peace from a friendly hand. If we found any kind of peace in worship or in any blessed form of spiritual elevation, let us not hoard it for ourselves. That would be to betray its essence.
Pisa, 1 X 1986
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