I spent the weekend before last hanging out with Peggy and Alivia and had the pleasure of attending meeting on Sunday morning. Freedom Friends is a church that inspires fierce loyalty and love. At the beginning of the meeting, when we were all listing our gratitudes, several people mentioned how grateful they were for the church. Many of the attenders have real and serious problems, but it is clear how much everyone cares about the community.
As part of an opening prayer, Peggy mentioned all of the people who couldn't be there, but were with us in spirit. After we settled into the silence, I felt the undeniable sense of being led to speak (this is not my favorite thing, so I think if I didn't get so uncomfortable, I might never say a word). I said,
I have been thinking about all the people who are not here, but are thinking of us, and how usually I am one of those people. I want you to know that I do think of you, and I pray for you, and it is a joy to hold this meeting in the Light.I got back to Seattle a few days before University Friends Meeting's second all-meeting retreat. University Friends is a much older, more comfortable meeting that I am helping to make a little less comfortable in its Year of Discernment.
The goals of the year are to discern who we are as a community and what we are called to do. The second retreat focused on tools for individual discernment. Cathy Whitmire from the Widbey Island Worship Group came to lead us in discernment exercises. In the final exercise, we met in mini clearness committees focused on the question, "When you look into your place of deepest knowing, what do you most desire?"
After the clearness committees, we had time for open worship. Again, I felt that heart-pounding, can't-stay-in-my-seat feeling. So I stood and said,
I have been thinking about the connection between what we most desire and what we are called to do. I like my job, but I don't think of my job as my calling. I don't know if I will ever have a job that I think of as my calling. But I am the only Quaker where I work, and I get a lot of questions about being a Quaker. I try to answer the questions as honestly as I can. It is a burden and a gift to represent this community.Looking at both of these messages, I can see that they have to do with me and my relationships with my meetings. A recurring theme in my life lately has been trying to find my place in the world. Within the Quaker world, I find myself taking on the roles of nurturer and representative and sometimes reluctant speaker. These are gifts and burdens, but overall, it is a joy.