11 December 2006

In God's Time

About once a month, I am responsible for closing Meeting. This means that I need to provide the flowers for the center table, discern when Meeting is over, welcome folks to Meeting, and facilitate introductions and announcements. I find this a challenging duty for many reasons, but it also gives me delight.

I don't ordinarily wear a watch. I gave watches up years ago because I decided that they interfered with my ability to move according to my children's needs and not according to the clock. For many years, my watch sat in a drawer, its battery getting deader and deader.

Our Meetinghouse has no clock in the main room, and so I have had to be creative in order to end Meeting on time. I have borrowed watches from sympathetic Friends. I have sat near individuals who wear watches with large dials.

I recently got new batteries for my watch just so I could wear it to Meeting on closing days. Naturally, in the rush to get four children, myself, and the flowers ready for Meeting, I forgot to put on my watch. Moreover, I forgot completely about the need to monitor the time until I was deep in worship.

Glancing around, I could find no close Friend wearing a watch. "Very well," I thought, "this morning I will just have to close Meeting on God's time instead of clock time."

I gave the closing of Meeting completely over to God and settled back to deep worship. After some time (although it was difficult to say how much because I was in a timeless space), I was prompted to end Meeting and welcome afterthoughts.

"It's too early," I thought, but I opened my eyes and closed Meeting. At 11:30 on the dot. I had my usual difficulty finding words after deep worship, but I managed to fulfill my duties well enough.

My focus during worship these last several months has been on radical faith and surrendering control of more and more of my life to God. That morning, I had especially been thinking about how we as a Meeting can act more on living faith and less on custom and tradition. Are we, as a corporate body, allowing the Spirit a big enough space to act through us or are we relying too much on past directions and past decisions?

On a more personal note, should I even try to wear a watch when I close Meeting? Or should I instead put my faith in God to prompt me to close Meeting when I should? Would my Friends be as tolerant of faith-led closing if I closed Meeting 1o minutes early or 15 minutes late?

And Kristina, if you happen to be looking in on this post, I felt your presence strongly at our worship that morning. I could almost see you sitting there, encouraging me to forget about clocks and pay attention to Spirit instead.


Rebecca Sullivan said...


this is awesome. wish i could have been there to experiences it. the local meetings here have extended worship five times a year. i am looking forward to haveing time to go some weekend when homework does not take over my life.


kristina said...

Heather! Rebecca directed my attention to this post. I am delighted to know I was present at meeting - even as I am thousands of miles away.

I continue to carry my hope that we will take more opportunities, in our meetings, to worship by God's time - rather than by our time. Then we might begin to learn how to live less by the tyrrany of the clocks of the Powers in all our days. Especially those of us who are not blessed with the gift of children -- yet... (I will say yours are equally lucky to have a mom willing to live on their-God's time.) Big hugs and love, Kristina

Heather Madrone said...


I often wish that you were both here to share worship with us! Meeting has been rich and deep this autumn, very unlike the popcorn of the summer.

Sometimes, when I think of surrendering to clock-free closing, I am reminded of the story of the guy who is caught in a flood. When the boat and the helicopter come by, he says, "God will save me" and refuses a lift. When he's drowning, he asks God why he didn't save him, and God replies, "I sent a boat and a helicopter -- what more did you want?"

I imagine that God might someday tell me "I gave you a watch -- what more do you want?"

In the grand scheme of things, the whole clock thing is probably not very important. It feels to me, though, that is connected to things that are very important indeed.

What does it mean when people wear watches (or bring cell phones) to worship? What does it say about our radical faith if we try to schedule it by the clock? What would happen if we let go of the clock?

Stina, you've obviously thought about this a lot more than I have, and I'd welcome your thoughts.