The whole idea is this, in effect: from Silence with God, in shared worship or in solitude, to Action with humanity.
Action in a Quaker spirit, naturally, means: far from feeding exclusively on the spiritual food given by silent worship, as a pure mystic would, Quakers, as "active mystics" commit themselves, between one time of worship and the next, to socio-religious works: perhaps working in nurseries or schools of every kind and level, distributing educational texts, taking and giving courses on world religions; helping those at the edges of society, those in prison, the alienated and mentally retarded; opening dialogue between communities separated by religious, racial or national hatred without siding with one or the other; or mending the social fabric ripped up by the hurricanes of war or of revolution.
There is no need for the enthusiasm of a novice to idealise the works of Quakers in the few centuries of their existence. Well-researched religious and non-religious history books are full of accounts of their continuing involvement and service to humanity, without regard to what kind of people they are, their race or their religion.
Silence is one way to rediscover the deep roots of people's humanity, but it is not everything: after having used it well, and having drawn from the experience of others, through the numerous business meetings, Quakers do not omit to carry out social and philanthropic activities in the field best suited to them, in line with their ideals.
Unfortunately the world is in desperate and urgent need of this, and Friends know that they are little more than a drop in the ocean.
Verbania, 5 IX 1991
Please send any suggestions for alternative translations of any of these meditations to Simon Grant.