The Practice of Epilogue

Hello everyone, I would like to talk about my experience with the regular practice of epilogue today, and start a conversation about how we, as young and busy people, can make space in our daily lifes for quiet contemplation, connecting with the Spirit, and expectant waiting.

A picture I took which – to me – symbolizes stillness and the sacredness of nature.

I attended an epilogue session for the first time last year at the EMEYF Annual Meeting in Brussels. I did not really know what it was, but I understood it as a mini Meeting for Worship, with sometimes some impulses, a reading, or some reflections about the day. So maybe a little less quiet than a MfW? Then, in Brussels, I experienced that quiet time before sleeping is definitely something healthy for my mental health as it helps me to be mindful of what happened that day and to get back in tune with the Spirit and myself. Back home after the gathering I talked to some people at my local meeting about it. They told me that for them, epilogue is a daily practice which they do all year around, every evening, to end the day in silence. I was intrigued and impressed, as it was hard for me to imagine this for myself.

Two months later I started my internship at Quaker house and was invited to join the epilogue which the inhabitants of the house practiced every evening back then. They way how they did it is that they light a candle, and everyone who feels so moved can tell the others when they felt the most or least connected to the Spirit during that day. However, it happened more than once that some very deep ministry came up in epilogue which was about something that did not necessarily happen that day. I also enjoyed that in the specific spot where we did our epilogue, we were sitting in a nook which overlooked a busy street in Brussels and a park, so when we sat there in silence, for me, it also meant to connect with the neighbourhood and the world outside and around us.

I noticed pretty quickly that this practice was a huge gift for my mental and spiritual health and that it gave me a completely new opportunity to experiment with the Light and expectant waiting. For me, it was a different experience that Meeting for Worship: In the silence in daily epilogue, I had less expectation for something “to happen” during silence, which made me more open to the Spirit. I feel like I was able to listen much better than during the Sunday Meeting for Worship and the silence felt deeper. That was something which I did not expect. I also noticed that epilogue helped me to connect with others, and reflect on the connections and encounters I had with other people during the day, as well as my own moods and actions. The daily practice had a really big impact on me and completely changed the way how my day ended. I really did not want to miss it, ever.

Me trying out a different technique of connecting with the eternal 😉

Now you may ask: Lena, if this silly practice did “blow your mind”, I am sure you still do it today, at home, right?

Unfortunately, no. I really tried, though. I tried to make time every day to practice epilogue but it was not possible for me to really make it a part of my day, yet. Right now, I see three reasons for this. 1) I feel like for me, I cannot do the practice alone. It just does not work. I cannot explain it in the slightest, I have no clue. I just cannot do it alone. I cannot manage to settle and my mind is not as calm. 2) My partner is not a Quaker and has little understanding for the practice. He understands that it is something that helps me and that it is important to me, but he cannot do it with me. We tried a few times after I convinced him that “meditation is scientifically proven to be good for your mental health and sleep, just give it a try”. However, he did not want to stick with it and because he had no practice in it, even five minutes of silence were very long for him. It is also not easy for me to do the whole “immediate sleep after epilogue, no phone or book” after silence, when your partner is not on board with it. I do not blame him for this at all, it is just a factor which makes it harder for me. 3) I had to realize that it is important for me to have a spot that feels “right” for epilogue. I cannot do it at a small kitchen table or a desk full of work-related documents and nick-nack. I am still trying to create a space in my living space which feels right.

I really wish I could find a practice which works for me and my current life situation, which connects me to the Spirit every day, and “brings me back” into a mindful space. Without it feeling like a chore, of course. I am currently trying out other things, but so far nothing really “stuck” and worked well for me to do on my own.

And this is where I would like to start a conversation: do you have any daily practices which you do to connect or be mindful or listen in silence? How did you make them a habit in your busy life? I would love to read some reflections and experiences on this. Maybe even some tips for me. 😉

Lena


12 thoughts on “The Practice of Epilogue

  1. Dear Lea, Thank you for sharing so clearly your experience with Epilogue.
    Since Lockdown, Zürich Quakers having been meeting on Skype for our Sunday Meetings for Worship and in the evenings for Epilogue at 9.00pm. It is a platform which any of us can access.
    I tried to adopt it as a daily spiritual practice (I join Friends on the EfM course at Woodbrooke every morning for half an hour of quiet worship) but my rule of thumb is that, if I am in the house, and am not busy doing other things, then I join in.
    It is usually quite small and has an intimacy which other forms of meeting lack.
    It is a really good way of rounding off the day for me
    But what is clear, is that I cannot do it on my own.
    I need like minded Friends to hold the space with me.
    So there it is.
    Keep investigating.
    Jane

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your response, Jane! I enjoy doing MfW or epilogue via Skype or Zoom, too. I sometimes feel sorry for Friends who do not feel as connected when meeting with other via those channels. I am lucky as I can get a lot out of online meetings. 🙂 For me, everything is better than attempting to do it alone. Epilogue alone, so far, has never worked for me. But as you say: I will keep investigating. 😉

      Lena

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  2. Thanks Lena, I really enjoyed reading this. Epilogue has always been such an important part of Quaker gatherings for me, it’s so nice to see it written about so well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Friend!

    I enjoyed your post very much – it speaks to me.
    In the past couple days (weeks by now) I have been working on an evening routine to help me wind down the day and prepare for resting. There are a couple things you mention, which I have included – such as setting my (phone)alarm for the next day and putting my phone on silent and away. Then I do bathroom stuff, air out the bedroom and enjoy the crisp autumn air for a moment, before settling into an armchair to read for a while. Before, in between or after reading I contemplate or just allow my thought to wander. Currently I am reading a book of poems, and it really lends itself to airing your thoughts out.
    I can relate to your sentiment that it is difficult to be in worship without fellowship. My experience i, ,that I then get lost in my thoughts and don’t feel as connected or grounded.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing! I cannot wait to live in a space in which I can open large windows and have cold and breezy autumn air flowing around me. That sounds wonderful! I am often having a harder time connecting to poetry, but maybe I just need to find the right poetry for me and not give up.

      Lena

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  4. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Daily sharing and listening with others on our experiences when we felt close and less connected seems a beautiful experience. Your are very fortunate to hold that experience close.
    For years now, I find my best time for reflecting and “epilogue” is right before retiring. Sometimes just laying on my back with my hands on my stomach looking at the ceiling listening to the sounds of the home or outside and then reflecting through my day. Other times I write in my journal reflecting on my day. When living with others, it’s hard to claim your personal time right up to sleep, but frequently I carve out that reflection time once I am done with daily activities and rest is next. There are times when I find some free time and seek a peaceful place maybe walking, sitting or even remaining in my car, and have an epilogue with myself on what has recently happened up to that moment and meditate. I am able to find some peace and a way forward.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thanks for sharing Lena! I always really enjoy epilogue at gatherings too but never thought about doing it every day. I’ve felt quite disconnected from most of Quaker-dom recently, so perhaps I will give it a try..

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  6. Hoi,
    Thank you for this text! It made me reflecting on my own evening routine. I have not yet joined a official Epilogue (but soon I will).

    Concerning 1): You are not alone. Perhaps you know the “4 doors” by William Taber. This inspired me a lot, especially the metaphor of the stream/river.
    And so many friends shared the silence before, and so many are going to in the future.
    2) I have the same issue. But my partner also has some routines I don’t share. That makes it easier to accept. I try to get independent from a “must-have together-evening”, following my own needs, especially in busy times.
    3) Try different places and chairs. I joined some meetings from my working desk, but with an other chair, with a cozy blanket. It makes the difference for me.

    The epilogue routine I try to enhance (currently +- 3 times/week)

    Reading a random article in faith&practice or another Quaker-Book. If something seems very important or resonant, I write a margin note or even something in my diary. Sometimes, if it is really neccessary, I write a Message/Short eMail to one of the Friends I want to share with. Then I close my eyes, fold my hands an try to dive into the light by letting everything go…

    In Friendship,
    Anna

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you very much for your response, Anna! Your reflections and recommendations are helpful. My partner and I will hopefully move to a larger space soon and I will be able to have a little meditation/reading nook there, which I hope will help me to create a space for epilogue, too. 🙂 I will look up the reference to William Taber, tank you! 🙂

      In Friendship,
      Lena

      Liked by 1 person

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