The previous week had been lesson after lesson about waiting for God to give me direction: what should I bring to the yearly meeting's high school group?
I had been asked to talk with them about Convergent Friends but I was having trouble sinking into the topic and understanding what it was I was to pull out and share.
For each of five or six days leading up to the presentation, I would spend anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour a half, writing notes, making lists, reading blog posts, asking Friends for ideas, searching the internet for interactive activities...
And the next day, I would get the feeling that what I had done the day before just wasn't what God was asking me to do.
By the event's eve, I started to let go and submit:
I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know what the group is going to need. I don't know what materials will come in handy. And I'm not going to know until I get to the site where the teens are and be among them.
So that morning, I packed up everything I thought I might be able to use if Way opened--markers, blank paper, flipchart boards, my favorite Quaker books, ALL of my notes, handouts from an earlier workshop...
And I surrendered.
I'm not sure yet if I'll write a separate blogpost about how things turned out and what activities I ended up using. Overall, though, I feel things were... satisfactory.
But along the way, with all the planning and threshing and note-jotting, I ended up with a chart that summarizes my own take on how the Convergent conversation addresses certain topics.
|Jesus||Convergent Friends (Conv Fs) are not afraid to talk about or wrestle openly about Jesus. Whether Jesus is a teacher that we follow, a figure that we praise, or a legend that we acknowledge has relevance to our peers, we are willing to ask one another questions and listen thoughtfully for the Truth and Light that might be there for ourselves.|
|God or the Divine||Similar to Jesus, above. Most Conv Fs speak openly about an actively present God, Living Christ, or Divine Figure in our life, but a few are questioning: Is there a God? Can I call myself a Christian? Conv Fs are willing to ask the questions and listen for Truth that may speak to our condition.|
|Scripture||Many Conv Fs have some familiarity with Scripture. Part of the Quaker renewal that Conv Fs are coming into includes a growing openness to talk about and refer to Scripture. Some Conv Fs reference the importance of the Bible and the impact it's making in our lives.|
|Nontheists||There appear to be very few nontheists engaged in the Convergent conversation currently, but the ones who are involved challenge theist Quakers--or at the very least, they challenge me--to watch for how any of us live our life rather than listen solely to the theology we profess. Nontheist Convergent Friends are part of the Quaker family.|
|Pastors & Programmed Worship||Conv Fs recognize that Friends churches and programmed worship can bring Quakers closer to the Living God. Pastors explain Scripture, practices, terms, and history related to the faith tradition in a way that prevent or slow the loss of these pieces, unlike what may be happening among Liberal unprogrammed "Quietist-leaning" Friends.|
|Open Worship||Conv Fs recognize that this form of worship provides a powerful opportunity for worshipers to know God directly and to know God as a corporate body within a gathered meeting.|
|Faithfulness||Conv Fs often speak of a yearning to be faithful and obedient to the Spirit, and how that yearning needs to be pursued and needs to be helped. Conv Fs not only speak of our spiritual yearnings but also offer ourselves to one another for spiritual nurture and prayer support.|
|Accountability & Eldership||Many Conv Fs have established a shared trust that allows us to open to one another for this sort of spiritual exercise.|
|Power & Humility||The danger is that any Friend--Convergent or otherwise--may start to believe "I'm right, you're wrong" (or "We're right, you're wrong"). When we are low and keep love and God at the center of our searching, worship, and finding, we are more able to reach across the branches of our Quaker family tree and help mend the schisms.|
|Intervisitation||Conv Fs feel known in that which is Eternal, even on the internet, and so we often seek one another out as the Opportunity arises. Meet-ups that parallel other events allow Conv Fs to strengthen ties and experience the Presence together.|
|Finding||Conv Fs testify with one another, to the wider body of Friends, and beyond what we have found. Conv Fs testify to the Truth and Love experienced during our spiritual journey.|
Not all my thoughts are fleshed out thoroughly, and though I use the words "we" and "our" when referencing Convergent Friends, I also recognize that I myself do not identify as a Convergent Friend!
I will say that I am involved in the conversation. I will explain what being part of the Convergent movement might mean. I will even devote a section of a book to the subject of Convergent Friends. But I find that I am not clear to name myself "Convergent."
That said, maybe I need to add one more part to the table above:
|Attitude||If the yearning to go deeper into the Quaker tradition is coupled with an openness to the many forms that Quakerism takes; and if that yearning leads a Friend to pursue more time and experience among similarly oriented Quakers, all the while remembering the Source and Inward Teacher that others earnestly strive to Know, then that Friend may well be embracing the Convergent spirit and sensibility...|