Waldo Williams: the Inner Light

One of Wales’s best-loved twentieth century poets Waldo Williams joined the Religious Society of Friends later in life – in his fifties. He wrote about the ‘Inner Light’, which is a favourite Quaker idea, and about how, through the Light, the way that we see the world, and our perspective on who we are, are constantly being transformed through all the experiences of our lives, particularly through our interaction and shared experiences with other people:

It’s not our light, we receive it. In the midst of our experiences with our fellow humans comes a light to make those experiences look different. We say, in a clumsy way, that it is the Inner Light that has caused the transformation…

For Waldo Williams, like other religious Friends, that Inner Light comes from their god, or even is identified with their god. But how do we know, he asks, that we are not deceiving ourselves?

In the end, we have nothing but our own experiences to rely on. In the end, even the one who accepts the most traditional religion has nothing but their own experience to rely on.

Quoted from Quaker Faith and Practice, fifth edition, 26.64