Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Dear Mary Lindsey,
All of your ideas are excellent. I have encountered variations of all of them, and they serve a meeting very well.
I also suggest that you might like to institute a mid-week meeting for worship. Those of a more contemplative bent often will find this gives them some extra nourishment. The quality of these meetings can be very different from First-day worship as well, adding new experiences of the Spirit.
Perhaps you would like to have occasional retreats as well, either one day or an entire weekend, onsite or at a retreat center, to contemplate a particular topic or simply for a silent retreat.
Yours in the Light, Paula
Thank you for your kindness and support in responding. Great ideas!! Would you think also that a discussion thread on this site by members of this small group (and others on the site who want to participate) would be appropriate? Would this be allowable on the site? Thanks again for your response and support, Paula.
Holding you in the Light.... Mary
I have had similar feelings. Namely, a need to have a more contemplative based, or centered, practice or Meeting. What I have done in response to this felt need is similar to what you are thinking of. I have started a once-a-month Meeting that has this contemplative focus. We meet on the First Friday of each month (coming up this Friday). I find the phrase "First Friday" is easy for people to remember. I am the manager of a bookstore and so I am able to use this space after hours for the contemplative Meeting.
I refer to this as a "Meeting for Silence", the phrase is meant to highlight the contemplative nature of the gathering. In order to retain the contemplative focus I am using "A Guide to True Peace" as the focus for discussion after the contemplation is concluded. I really love the "Guide" and find it a rich and rewarding work for accessing the contemplative dimension of Quaker Faith and Practice. We are going through it very slowly; discussing just one section each month. There are 17 sections, all of them short, so it will take over a year to go through it. But that's OK; it's part of Quaker Pace.
There are other works that you could use such as Shewen's "Guide for the True Christian Traveller" recently republished by Inner Light Press. It is also a very brief and simple work.
I fortunately have the full support of my Monthly Meeting for this project. I discussed this idea with them and they thought it a good thing to experiment with. I am grateful for their support because I thought their highly political focus wouldn't necessarily be supportive for an explicitly contemplative gathering. I'm glad to report that I was wrong about that.
So far the once-a-month pace seems about right. One thing I have noticed is that this monthly contemplative gathering has brought in people who don't normally attend the Montly Meeting, people who are interested in a western meditative tradition. Since you are planning on doing this out of someone's home, that might not happen with you. But if it does I have found that it is helpful to very briefly introduce some aspects of Quaker form to newcomers. A contemplative group may attract people who have experience in Eastern forms and this creates certain expectations. For example, if new people come to the Meeting for Silence I ask if they have a meditation practice. If they say yes, I briefly discuss simple points such as Quakers sit in chairs, not on the floor; that the Quaker approach to silent contemplation is not based on things like breath control or mantra contemplation. Then I try to offer a few pointers about Quaker practice. This only takes a minute, but in several instances I've gotten feedback that it was helpful to newcomers who have a background in Eastern forms.
Please let us know how this new group of your works out. I'd be intersted in hearing more about it.
This is another great idea. Thank you Stephanie! I think I am going to "cut and paste" all these great ideas and present as a hand out to the small group of Members/Attenders who have an existing interest. I can not say thank you enough to all of you for your support and ideas -- what a difference it makes.
Yours in the Light, Mary
The ideas I am receiving are so helpful! I am wondering if it would be appropriate to have those participating in this Meeting for Silence (I really like this Jim!) participate in a discussion thread here on QuakerQuaker. It seems like this would be a great way for participants to share and keep in touch in between a monthly get together. Has anyone else tried something like this?
Your Friend in the Light, Mary
I appreciate very much this thread. I am particularly grateful that all of the suggestions are "outside" of the Meeting for Worship. I find it important to recognize that the "preparation" for Meeting for Worship and "intentional" readings and practices are meant to provide a basis for the waiting and listening of the Meeting for Worship that is different from individual or group "meditation."
I would love to have a Group on QuakerQuaker, but I don't understand how to set one up. I would like to call it 'Contemplative Quakers'. How does one go about doing this?
My sense is that a large percentage of Friends on Quakerquaker are contemplative, and that it has little to do with any particular branch of Friends. Mary chose to pose her question within Liberal Friends, perhaps because many Liberal Friends come to us because they are drawn to action? Sometimes it can feel like two different strands within a liberal meeting as a result.
If Martin sets up a new group, would be wish to keep it within this group?
I pray for Light.