For whatever reason, the last few weeks in Meeting for Worship I have found my mind resting on how our participation in meetings and in worship perhaps has changed since the first few generations of Friends:
I wonder sometimes if I have become a bit lazy in my Quakerism. I use the internet to search for another Quaker's words about a concept with which I am wrestling--but should I be carving out more time to listen inwardly or wait patiently in the Light for understanding and revelation to come to me?
Without cars or mass transit, would people have traveled more than 10-15 miles on any given First Day to attend worship? Or would people naturally have gathered as a local meeting or worship group, making it easier for more Friends to attend a meeting for worship that was held in closer proximity to where they lived?
Would there have been many more meetings and worship groups across the land as a result of needing to rely on our own feet or maybe a horse?
Would it have been that much more important, then, to make the effort to attend the monthly meeting's Meeting for Worship with attention to Business, knowing that the Spirit was moving amongst so many small groups in a region? Would it have been refreshing to hear those experiences from other Friends, in the next town over?
And would such proximity have lent itself to a local, more sustainable faith community, relying on one another for mutual support and accountability; and helping one another get to know each another "in that which is Eternal"?
If a traveling minister or other traveling Friend had arrived in town, would a good many more Friends attend Meeting and social or public events in order to listen to and worship with the visitor(s), knowing that such visits required an additional measure of spiritual faithfulness and physical endurance? Without the huge media network that we have today, would worshipers be more likely to listen inwardly to that still, small voice, rather than mull over what they heard that morning on public radio or read in the newspaper? Without the tremendous number of books available to them on psycho-spiritual matters, other faith traditions, or Quakers who had lived before them, did early Friends at the time gain inspiration from the Scriptures and from the living ministers among them?
I underline the pages of the pamphlets and books that I read, grateful that someone is able to speak to my condition--but should I be allowing myself more time to sink into the Seed more deeply and allow the Spirit to speak directly to me?