Quakers sit in silence because they want to know something that words cannot tell them. They want to feel something or become aware of something so that they can really make a connection with it. It is something fundamental to their life, they know that, indeed it is the underlying reality of their life, but they are not normally aware of it. They are preoccupied with other things. They are taken up, like others, with the relatively shallow things of life, encouraged by the media and contemporary culture genrally, and they hardly feel the depth of it all. So they feel the loss, the distance, and want somehow to get close to this deeper reality. They want to become ‘Friends of the Truth’, as they liked to call themselves at the beginning. Not any truth, but a truth that relates specifically to their deepest felt needs, and to the needs of the world. They are looking for a truth by which to live, that is, a sense of reality that tells them who they are and how they should live. They want the truth in this sense because that is the only basis on which they could expect to enjoy life to the full and to contribute to life. Part of the reality of their life, of course, is their relationship with one another and with other people, both near and far. So they want to ‘discern’ what happens between people, what makes for a good life together, and what makes for a bad one. They want to learn in their own experience how relationships that are broken can be mended, how conflicts can be resolved, and how ‘the Friends of Truth’ can work together to make these things happen in the world.

Rex Ambler, The Quaker Way: A Rediscovery