Minute Of Silence At A Homeless Shelter In London
Posted by Ani Devlia on Jul 11, 2016
Every Friday, the day homeless shelter I volunteer with, hold a women's group where 30-40 women come together to share a hot lunch, participate in activities and find community. The diverse backgrounds and cultures, together with the struggles of striving for basic survival needs often causes misunderstandings and friction within the group, and volunteers are challenged in maintaining healthy dynamics.
A couple of years ago, an inspiring singer had been invited along to the session, and the afternoon of inspiring songs and stories on kindness and gratitude had been powerful in opening many hearts, left them overflowing with love. The women had cried. They had hugged. They had felt gratitude for having each other. Beautiful and amazing to witness.
At the end of the session, we stood in one very large circle to thank the guest singer and quite spontaneously I was moved to close the session with a "ServiceSpace style" one minute's silence of gratitude. We had all received so much that day, it just seemed the right thing to do. So we stood holding hands in silence, in one big circle.
As the women were leaving, one woman, Lorna, said "why can't we do that one minute silence every week?" So we did.
Each week, we hold hands in a silent circle-- some call it a circle of prayer, some a circle of friendship. Whatever name we choose to call it, the holding hands, the silence, the stillness, the gratitude-- bring together a feeling of peace, of oneness, of community. In a way, the circle helps in diffusing differences and judgements. Some days, the circle lasts a lot longer -- when after the minute's silence, women feel moved to pray for somebody, or to share gratitude for someone who has been extra kind that day, or sometimes simply share the gratitude for having a community.