But I am still not sure about the label "convergent Friends." When I wrote about convergent Friends before, I said,
Maybe all of this talk about Convergent Friends is a sign that we need to reexamine what it means to be a modern Quaker and put more effort into figuring out how we are going to relate to all those other folks who are not like us, but are still Quakers.After this past weekend, I am more convinced this is true.
A theme that ran through the workshops was that although those there feel strongly that Quakerism has something powerful and something to offer a hungry world, we were all missing something too. If we were completely spiritually fed in our own meetings and faith communities, we would not be drawn to this kind of gathering.
Throughout the weekend, some found bits that they had been missing through expectant worship, prayer, reading the Bible, singing, and talking to others. But it also seemed clear by the end that we had not resolved anything and there was still a lot of work to do.
In reading through the Bible, I have been deep in Ezekiel for several weeks now. It was poignant for me that themes from Ezekiel came up over the weekend, particularly the story of Ezekiel raising the bones, prophesying to them, and breathing life into them. (Ezekiel 37).
A passage in the chapter before that also spoke to me. God said,
I'll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I'll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I'll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that's God-willed, not self-willed. I'll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. (Ezekiel 36: 25-27).One of the things we did that moved me the most was walking through stations of the Lord's prayer. Instead of rushing through it, we actively participated in different parts, including a place where we washed our hands and asked God to cleanse us.
I came out of the weekend with the sense that convergent Friends are not a new kind of Friend. Our gathering was a group of people searching for Quaker renewal. If a catchy title like "convergent" gets people to come together and think about the future of Friends, that's great. But I am more interested in what we are going to do next than how to define convergent.
While I was in Ben Lomond, I thought about a series of questions that I wrote last year at the Quaker Women's Theology Conference. They seem to fit, so I will end with those.
What are we afraid of? What is fear keeping us from doing? What do we hope will happen in the future? Why do we meet? What can we do to help each other to grow in faith and community? What do we need as a group? What roles need to be filled and who are the people led to fill those roles? What can we do to nurture this sense of bridging the gaps when we go back to our meetings?I am grateful to Friends for spending time with me in the presence of God over the weekend. God may not always be nice, but God is there.