Over the past several months, I have been thinking a lot about our Meeting community and the work needed to tend it. To me, our Meeting seems a precious, living jewel, a beacon of light that shines steadily in the world. Precious and delicate, held as it is in the hearts and hands of frail human beings.
As I go forward in my work on Worship & Ministry, I find that I am called to a deeper faith. Now more than ever, I need to trust to the process of worship, to the ability of God to fix what human hands cannot. Instead of thinking that I need to solve all problems with my own mind, my own experience, my own efforts, I need to let go and trust that I will be led to serve my Meeting as it needs me to.
Another blow to my ego! It's not about how well I do this job; it's all about the job I need to do. I don't have to take the entire weight of the Meeting on my shoulders; all I need to do is to listen to what I am called to do and to do it faithfully.
This is hard for me.
One of the things that I have become aware of recently is how many people want to bend the Meeting to their own wills. Most of us have figured out how Meeting is supposed to be and what Quakers are supposed to be, and we try to get everyone else to conform to our ideas. I have a sneaking suspicion that this goes against the ideas of continuing revelation and the inner light. I also think that we are always in danger of substituting the correct forms and terminology for direct experience of the Divine.
The remedy, it seems to me, is to go deeper, to dive down below the surface disagreements to our place of unity. In worship, where we share communion with one another and with the Spirit. In that place, we don't risk putting God in too-small a box. In that place, we aren't prey to petty disagreements and hair-splitting. In that place, we can find peace and that shining beacon of love that unites us.
I have been thinking that the advice of Shakespeare works as well for Meetings as it works for relationships:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Let us not to the marriage of true minds admit impediment. Let's not quibble about terminology or dogma or what makes a true Quaker. Let's go deeper, and follow that ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken. Let's find our star and steer our wandering bark to it instead of trusting to our own frail minds as the star and rudder of our craft.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediment. Help me remember that it's not all about me, that I am a small and frail being with faults and limitations, that the Truth is bigger than my mind can compass, that it is not right for me to impose my limitations on the eternal. Help me remember to say, "Dear God; I don't know how to handle this situation. Show me what I ought to do."
"And then help me have the faith to do it."