Friday, July 8, 2011

Being Home

I am not going to any yearly meetings this summer.  When I said that to some Friends recently, their response was, "Don't say that too loud!" as if a yearly meeting will suck me in because I am advertising my empty schedule.

This summer is so different from last summer, when I was released for ministry by a Margaret Fell Fund grant from Friends General Conference's Traveling Ministries Program.  I traveled to gatherings in five different states to worship with Friends.  I served as an elder, a minister, a conference organizer, and a representative of my yearly meeting.  It was an amazing time and I am so grateful to have had those opportunities.

At the time, I wrote about the challenge of finding balance and a rhythm in my day-to-day life.  Although my days look very different this summer, I am still trying to find that balance.  Now it is more about making time to pray in the mornings before I go to work and going for walks on my lunch break to remind myself to reconnect with God and nature.

This week is the FGC Gathering and I am not there.  I planned to go, I even registered, but then I became clear that I needed to stay home instead.  It has been hard for me in some ways, because I have a lot of friends who are there and who I miss, but I know that I am where I am supposed to be.

I have never been to the FGC Gathering, and it feels strange to miss an event that I have never attended, but I do.  I think it will be harder when others go to annual sessions for North Pacific Yearly Meeting and Northwest Yearly Meeting, which I have attended for the past two years.

Today, I read Peterson T's post about his experiences at the FGC Gathering and it made me laugh when he talked about the gluten-free drama.  It also reminded me of the time at NPYM annual session when I accidentally took a child's gluten-free toast instead of my own and smeared peanut butter all over it before realizing my mistake.  I felt horrible, like I had ruined everyone's breakfast.

And that's the thing about gatherings.  At times they are so wonderful―incredible things happen when Friends gather to spend time listening to God and to each other.  I have been fortunate to be a part of deeply grounded worship and to feel the presence of God among Friends.  But going to Quaker events also means unfamiliar beds and strange food and having to deal with a lot of people.  We all get cranky and sometimes we can be downright petty.

So this summer I am missing the spiritual highs and the lows.  I go to work each day and worship on first days at my home meeting, which is small but rich.  At times I feel insecure and worry that Friends will forget about me.  But I have been blessed by words from friends lately, reminding me that I don't know what impact my ministry will have, and that it's not about me anyway.

Another thing that is really different from last summer is that I am not moving.  Last year at this time, my house was filled with boxes.  Now I have been in my home for nearly a year, and it is so nice to know that I will be staying here for a while.

I have been on the go for so long that I had forgotten what it was like to have open space in my life, and I am learning to breathe into it.  As the space continues to open, I also have the opportunity to decide what I want to keep and what to let go.  And I am grateful.

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