Attending a Gathering/Quiet Day
The following guidelines were written to help those who are coming to a gathering to be reminded of the purpose of gathering together for shared meditation.
Towards a Unified Silence
When we come to a gathering, we give ourselves the valuable opportunity to benefit from an extended practice of contemplative meditation.
We shall learn to lose something of our absorption in the things of time and become a little more responsive to those which are external.
We therefore lay aside many of the thoughts and interests which usually occupy our minds so that we can more easily become still and quiet when we meet together for meditation.
It is tempting, perhaps, to think that by coming to a gathering, we have the perfect situation to catch up with our correspondence, get some visiting done, or even carry out a bit of business. Marian Dunlop however, saw clearly that “while this may be pleasant for the individual, it has a disturbing effect on the gathering as a whole, introducing an undercurrent of unrest.”
While you are under one roof for a short space, we are “one of a band set on the same quest… having the stimulus and encouragement arising from contact with like-minded people.” It was Marian Dunlop’s hope that every member who could, should make one visit a year to a gathering.
Much in learning meditation depends on unconscious acceptance, so rather than getting involved in outside activities or even in discussions of our experiences or difficulties, we give ourselves time to let what we have heard sink in and be assimilated.
This may go against the grain at first, but in time, we shall come to realize its value.
So, while on the one hand, we avoid over–intensiveness which can lead to strain; on the other hand, we avoid doing too many things which later on make concentration harder for us. Finding this middle way enables us, as Marian Dunlop says, "to give of our very best in mental alertness, unified desire and clarity of purpose.”
With these suggestions in mind then, we shall find ways to use our leisure times wisely. We shall be richly rewarded, not only while we are here, but afterwards too, as we become better able to carry God with us in all our doings.