While catching up on some blog reading, I came across a comment on Claire's Spiritual Journeys, which reads in part:
"Some of our Quaker language ("leading", "waiting", "obedience", etc.) sounds very passive."
My initial reaction to reading this was "Nah-ah!"
...And that reaction of course was followed by a period of considering why my reaction was so strong.
First of all, I realized, I often interpret "passive" as being related to inaction, a lack of initiative, or having no impulse to take action in response to an event or other stimulus. But then I considered that one of the strengths of Quakerism is not that it is passive but that it is receptive. We worship as we do in order to receive God's guidance and instruction.
Yet I believe there is more "activeness" to our faith than meets the eye.
I feel empowered--in the Power--when I come under the discipline of God's leading. Waiting to receive clearness of how and when to move forward is, to me, a weighty matter indeed, and when I am discerning well, I feel very active in my waiting. There's nothing passive about it, because I am responding, I do have an impulse to respond to that inward nudge: to be obedient to the call.
So yes, to the observer and to the new attender, some Quaker terms make Quakerism seem very passive. "Don't just do something, sit there!" is a phrase that comes to mind.
But to delve more deeply into the practice and traditions of Friends moves us beyond the shared hour of worship. We become responsible for holding one another accountable to listen more closely to the Inward Teacher, yielding and submitting our will in order to be faithful to the Divine Will.
Perhaps, then, I would say that Quakerism is a faith of discipline:
The discipline to wait.Blessings,
The discipline to listen.
The discipline to receive.
The disciplie to discern.
The discipline to yield.
The discipline to obey.