Moments to be cherished:
- The hands of the oldest and the youngest at work together. At my Prayer Shawl Ministry workshop, I asked how many people had never knit. Eight hands went up. I then asked how many people knew how to knit well enough to teach someone else. A half dozen hands went up, including the hands of the three young teenagers attending the workshop. The teenagers taught some of the oldest and weightiest Friends in our Meeting how to hold the yarn and cast on.
- The glowing faces of the teenagers as they carried out the lovingly prepared organic vegetables, lasagna with and without allergens, cabbage salad, fruit salad, and shamrock cookies for Saturday dinner. The teens had planned the meal, done the shopping, and chopped mountains of vegetables for the most delicious meal of the weekend.
- Hiking up to the waterfall with three 7-year-olds, a 5-year-old, another adult, and a stalwart 2.5-year-old who marched the whole way with his boots on the wrong feet.
- Seeing a Pacific Giant Salamander with the children.
- Connecting with other woman Friends over our thirst for feminine aspects of the Divine.
- Listening to Live Oak Preparative Meeting's musical rendition of their State of the Meeting report.
- Walking the labyrinth silently with a group of about 20 Friends, journeying inward to the center and then back out again. Watching their faces as they centered inward, and seeing their unique beauty as they stood in silence after the labyrinth walk.
- Having a long and heartfelt discussion with another member of Worship and Ministry about what the gospel of John did to Christianity and how Christianity might be different if we had the gospel of Thomas instead.
I had a good weekend and a busy weekend, but it was more a working weekend than a spiritual retreat for me.
In the final worship, however, we gathered quickly and the faith of my Friends pulled me down to the deepest worship I had experienced in a good while.
"I'm out of practice," I thought, "Why don't we talk more about the practice part of Faith and Practice? I say that I am a Quaker, but have I been doing my Quaker practice?"
I thought about the seasoned Friends I admire the most, and how their years of Quaker practice have built the spiritual gifts I most admire in them.
I have been under incredible stress these past few months. I've also been impatient with worship, having so much that I need to do and so little time to do any of it. Even when I've sat in worship, I've skimped on good practice. I haven't had energy to tend worship or to clear out my own spiritual detritus so I can be a pure well of Divine Light.
(Before worship, a dear Friend reminded me that I don't always need to be centered, that this is exactly why Quakers gather in community, so that we can help bring one another back to the Light when we stumble.)
During worship, I reflected on the importance of our corporate practice. Meetings, like individuals, learn how to be Quakers by doing our Quaker practices. I closed my eyes and tended my spiritual well, and then I opened my eyes and blessed each of my dear Friends, all the way around the circle.
I'm left thinking that I need to practice Quakerism much as the children need to practice the piano. I need to run through my Quaker scales, to exercise my Quaker faculties, and to gather with my Meeting for our corporate practices. Only then will I become the Quaker I can be, and the Quaker that my Meeting needs me to be. Without the practice, I'm a Quaker in name only, the outer shell of a Quaker without the inner Quakerness.