January 21, 2006

Queries from Contemplative Scholar

Over at Embracing Complexity, Contemplative Scholar has posted important queries about Quaker disillusionment.

Here is an excerpt of the comment I had left in response:

...I have been searching for words and experiences that point to the spiritual void I have been experiencing among some Friends. But how do we see something that is not there? What is it that we are pointing to when we are pointing to a gap, to an absence, to something that is missing?

This morning I am reviewing my dog-eared, uber-underlined copy of Thomas Gates' pamphlet Members One of Another, and have found a couple things there that speak to my condition and help me see the invisible void:

p. 14 "Is being accepted by others all there is to being a Friend?"

My answer to that is, No. And Gates goes on to explain about the place of shared values, the expectation to be transformed by the Light, the discipline of supporting others to be obedient to the Spirit, etc.

p. 24 "Mature meetings recognize that some of their members may at times require more than a sense of belonging and shared values, and that the community's responsibility has now moved beyond hospitality and acceptance..."

But what about meetings that are not mature?!

Here is what I am weighing:

Meetings that are not mature may not have the capacity to be able to say, "We do not know how to help you, Friends, with your questions. But let us seek together, worship together, and perhaps we will find others who can help with your questions and with your spiritual hunger...."

I sense I am now left with the questions:
What makes a meeting mature?


Who gets to decide if a meeting is mature or not?
Oh dear.


1 comment:

Contemplative Scholar said...

Yes, these are important questions. What can we do to deepen the sense of spiritual community in our Meetings?

What I try to do is mostly to initiate the kinds of conversations I long for. I share what I most want to share; I ask questions that give others an opportunity to share of their spiritual journeys. I learn to listen in deeper ways to the others in my Meeting.

Also, I prepare heart and mind for Meeting for Worship and sometimes my ministry in Meeting, and of course the ministry of others, can help our Meeting to pull together in more meaningful ways. I initiate and offer to lead worship sharing sessions or discussion groups when I sense that would be beneficial to me or the Meeting.

I keep asking myself, "What is my ministry to my Meeting?"

I very much believe that high-quality prayer from the seasoned Friends in a Meeting can and does guide the Meeting on a path to increasing maturity.