September 3, 2007

Stripping away

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend "the big meeting"--the second of two Meetings for Worship on First Day, which during the school year accommodates up to 100 children and youth, in addition to their families and other regular worshipers.

I settled easily, since the meeting was small because of the U.S. holiday weekend.

A few minutes later, though, the gathering of the meeting was changed by the addition of the laughter and squeals of a few children and adults playing outside on the field next to the meetinghouse.

Then a lawn mower started up nearby, annoying at first but which later I realized provided a constant hum that masked the other outdoor distractions.

I managed to resettle and rested a bit in the arms of the Everlasting Presence.

A while later, the lawn mower stopped, and I felt a loosening within me that I hadn't been aware of. I guess the noise of the mower had unknowingly distressed me, at least at some level.

And as the children's peals of laughter also quieted, the ensuing silence became that much more noticeable and for me, that much more grounding.

It was a clear reminder to me of the fundamental nature of Quaker worship: to strip away the "noise" of our interior and exterior life, the empty forms of religion and hollow doctrine, so that what remains is a clear pathway between ourselves and God.



Anonymous said...

Ahmen, You have described the Quaker ideal or at least what I strive for. Thanks

The trouble starts when we can't strip away the lawn mowers and church bells from the spirtual world so then we feel a need to remove them from the REAL world.



David Carl said...


That is very simple and direct. It speaks to me.


Anonymous said...

There is the love of God in laughter and someone caring for their garden.

Liz Opp said...

GMC and Dave Carl -

Always a pleasure to see you here! Thanks for commenting.

Anonymous -

Thanks for visiting and taking the time to add your comment as well. ...I hope you didn't take my comment about the children's laughter as meaning that their laughter was intrusive. Certainly not!

I silently rejoiced in hearing the children's joy and playfulness, while acknowledging that the worship experience was in fact "changed"--not made better or worse for me, just different.

(Well, the start-up of the lawn mower maybe was intrusive! smile)

And I have appreciated the gardens by the back door, so I know someone's gift of having a green thumb is also being well used.


Robin M. said...

When noises irritate me in meeting for worship, I try to remember an impromptu meeting once held by a flowering bush on a seaside trail - we didn't expect the waves to stop crashing, or the bees to stop buzzing or even the seagulls to stop their shrieking. We just accepted them as part of the day.

At our meetinghouse, one of the frequent loud noises is firetrucks going by. I am still glad that the fire department doesn't choose this one hour to go off duty so that we won't be interrupted in worship...