Thursday, March 02, 2006

From the silence--

Many, many years ago a young girl with a traditional Protestant background (many hours of sermons, ministerial prayers and Sunday school experience under her belt) went away to a small Quaker College. Within the first month, there appeared on the dorm bulletin board an invitation to attend Quaker meetings on Sunday. As transportation to a church of her custom was unavailable, she crossed the threshold of the "Meeting House" one Sunday morning in search of --she wasn't sure. This environment featured no altar, no decoration, no lectern. Its stark, warm beauty--– simple wood benches arranged in a square (participants faced each other) and bare walls with large open windows--– signaled something different. She sat down in the quiet with others gathered there. The silence was deafening. After what seemed an eternity, one man rose to speak. The silence following seemed thunderous again. Some time later another rose and shared a personal experience. Again, silence. An hour and one half later, a gentleman arose and said Amen. The people in that meeting silently departed. The young girl, bewildered by the lack of sermon and direction usually provided in her tradition religious setting, left in a most unsettled state. And on the following Sunday was strangely drawn back to that Meeting House. With each comment shared, she began, without “seemingly” acknowledging the speaker, to construct a framework of knowledge and belief upon the scaffolding provided by others. With each successive Sunday, the deafening sound of silence gradually became sweet notes of quiet to her ears. One Sunday she rose to speak and upon her sitting and the silence, knew that she had experienced one small piece of true self-knowledge and revelation in that sharing and ensuing silence.

Today, that woman's hair is streaked with gray. She does continue to cherish opportunities for constructing knowledge upon the scaffolding provided by others. And so, after years of reading, print and edublogs, she enters the blogosphere. Treasuring the ideas of other edubloggers, and anticipating the learning that will ensue, she looks to blogging for those sweet notes of quiet and knowledge construction. As this leg of her journey begins, she wonders where the greatest power may be found-- in the development of conversations and community, or in the possibilities to make her thinking clearly visible to her.

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