Recently, I've been finding my way along a narrow, crooked trail. I've found myself handling a very sticky, very confidential issue on behalf of the Meeting.
I haven't been able to share this issue with the Friends I usually rely on to help me find my way in the Meeting's work. I haven't been able to pass this off to the clerk or the appropriate committee. I have needed to work with a few Friends on this issue, but have had to hold much of the information about the situation in confidence.
This has not been easy for me. I'm very much an open process person. I believe that groups work better when everyone knows what's going on. In Meeting, I have come to rely on the wisdom of the community, the strength of seeking truth in Quaker process among Friends.
In this case, I have had to trust to my own wisdom and my own leading. The leading part hasn't been so hard. Each step of this path has been laid out clearly before my feet, with walls and cliffs on either side. Each step has been tricky to negotiate and emotionally difficult, challenging my compassion, my ability to stay centered, and my ability to avoid polarization. Along the way, I have often thought that this task ought to have been given to someone else, someone with better skills and more experience. Let this cup pass from my lips.
In the past few days, however, I have accepted that I might just be the best person for the job. There's a generational shift in the leadership of our Meeting, and many of the wise Friends who might be better suited for the job are no longer up to it. This situation was an opportunity for the new generation to develop some of the skills that will make us the wise and seasoned Friends for the next generation.
This task has given me renewed appreciation for the way Friends usually handle difficult situations. It's much easier to be part of a committee laboring over a difficult issue, where tasks can be shared with those best able to perform them. It's much easier to handle difficult situations when you can test your discernment by meeting with weighty Friends. It's much easier to move forward when you can feel the Meeting behind you.
In worship on Sunday, Friends talked about the support we get from God (or our inner guides or the Light) when we walk through the darkness. A Friend talked about Jesus' faith on the cross. Another Friend talked about the faith of the Jews in the concentration camps. Several Friends talked about how they had been lifted out of their own personal despair. Sitting in the Meeting, I felt my own heart lift. We might not always be able to share the details of our struggles, but we still support one another.
I think I often put too much faith in the power of words and forget the value of silence. Worship reminds me to go deeper, beyond the words and into the experience.