29 September 2009

Doing the Work of the Meeting

A couple of years ago, our Meeting embarked on the Jubilee Year by laboring over the structure of our Meeting. Since that time, we've done a lot of work to simplify the structure and lighten the load.

Sunday, we had a threshing session to consider the changes that we've made and whether they're working or not.

I put on my Assistant Clerk hat and sat next to the Clerk to support her work in the threshing session. I expected that we'd hear many things and that I myself would say that we've made a lot of progress towards simplifying and lightening the workload, but that we need to continue our work so that things can work more smoothly.

Almost immediately, the threshing session took a sharp turn towards the unexpected. I could feel the Clerk next to me struggling with letting go and letting God. I silently supported her in this, and turned my attention to what it was that our Meeting was trying to express.

When I was moved to speak, what I said was only tangentially related to our stated purpose that day. I spoke deep from the place of Not-Knowing, of admitting that I do not know how to do the work of our Meeting that I am called to do as Assistant Clerk and as clerk of Worship & Ministry. I affirmed my love and commitment to the Meeting, however, as well as my feeling of certainty that together, with the help of God, we can do what we are called to do.

I wondered the rest of the day and most of the next whether I had spoken appropriately or not. It certainly felt like Spirit moved me to say what I said, and the sense of being a channel was strong while I was speaking. It felt unruly, however, and I had the wry thought that we just ought to stop inviting Spirit to these meetings, that Spirit again and again throws a monkey wrench into our best laid plans.

The next day, I had a ministry/eldering/support meeting with a member of the Meeting who is struggling. I did not know what I was supposed to do, what was called for. I sat down earlier in the day to prepare for it, and ended up feeling that my Unknowing, my expectant waiting, was the best thing that I can bring to my work in the Meeting.

I can't pretend to be in control. I can't pretend that I know what I'm doing when I don't. All I can do is prepare the best I can, and show up open to whatever happens. All I can do is hold that tiny bit of Light that I have been given and shine for all I am worth.

That Unknowing is feeling very important to me. I don't know how to do this. I don't know what God wants of me.

I have to believe that is okay, and that I will be led as needed.

18 September 2009

The Cheerfulness Testimony

I read recently that happiness is contagious, a conclusion of a Harvard Medical School heart study.

I've often thought of George Fox's advice to walk cheerfully over the earth, answering that of God in everyone. There have been times when I've quipped that I've got the “cheerful” part down pat; if only the “answering that of God in everyone” was so simple!

These past few months, I haven't been as cheerful as I usually am. The cares of the world have seemed especially heavy in recent months, and I've been on an emotional rollercoaster that pulled me away from my center, time and again.

Just get back on the horse that threw you, Heather. No matter how many times you end up flat on the ground, you need to get up, dust off your fanny, and give it your best shot.

Okay, so I have here a vial of undiluted relentless unconditional happiness, and I want to infect as many people as possible with its contents.

makes Cheerfulness Fairy motions of sprinkling the contents of the vial everywhere that my influence can reach

Pass it on.

And two quotes that seem especially apt to me right now:

If we're not having fun, we're not doing it right.

Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.

09 September 2009

Integral calculus

Integrity is probably the traditional Quaker value that resonates most deeply with me, and the one that I think about the most.

It's also the name of my computer.

Integrity, to me, means wholeness. It means being all of one piece. It means walking your talk, living your values, embodying what is truest in you. It's deeper and purer than honesty.

In calculus, taking an integral means finding the area under a curve. All of it, all the bits and pieces. Finding the whole from the sum of its parts.

A set of data has integrity if it's complete, correct, and an accurate snapshot of the state of the data at a particular time.

So. Living in integrity means being all of one piece, living in harmony with my deepest values, expressing what is truest in me. It means living from my center, acting from that of God within me, flowing with what is best and purest and truest in me. It also means living passionately from that center, trusting my gut and my guide and living fully into my faith.

That's all.