During the first residency, I had an opportunity to meet with a Weighty Friend. We sat in worship for a few minutes, then he smiled and said to me, "How does thee feel about thy call into ministry?"
I grimaced and said, “Not very good!” We talked about how it is scary, but feels right.
Then he said, "In 15 years the Religious Society of Friends will be on thy shoulders."
I looked at him in horror and blurted out, "But my shoulders are so small!"
He laughed and amended his statement to say that my portion of the society would be on my shoulders.
I have been thinking about that conversation recently. I do not believe that the future of Quakerism depends on me. I am sure that even if I left tomorrow, Friends would go on just fine. But I am a part of the conversation and I am a lot younger than many of the people I see in Quaker meetings, so I started to wonder what I would say to the Religious Society of Friends if I could address it as a whole. What came to me was this:
I do not want to inherit your institutions.
Dear Religious Society of Friends,
This is what has life for me (in no particular order):
- friendships and conversations, especially across the branches of Quakerism
- meeting for worship, and not just for an hour on Sunday morning
- travel in the ministry
- trying new things and combining practices
- talking about God and how we see God at work in our lives
- talking about what is meaningful in Quakerism and why we are here
- trying to be a covenant community
- taking risks
- waiting individually and corporately for the Spirit to lead us
- rediscovering and nurturing our prophetic voice
It's not going to be easy, but following God never is. And, as the teachers at the School of the Spirit reminded us during the second residency, there is no time to start but now.