For the first time, I found myself asked to explain my faith and practiice to coworkers. Not due to any spiritual revival, but because a cable TV program has a Quaker character. Unfortunately, it was not Fox’s compelling and revolutionary insights that fascinated them. Instead they were stuck on one point - “You sit for an hour and do nothing?”
I explained that we pray, we meditate, but most important, we listen.
“So, you really don’t do anything for an hour.”
I spoke of continuing revelation, prophetic openings and inspired ministry.
“For a whole hour, a WHOLE hour, you just sit?”
They just couldn’t get past the idea of “doing NOTHING” for an HOUR. Clearly not a “people waiting to be gathered.” There was work to do in the clinic, so I moved on.
I spent most of that day working with a disabled man in crisis. He was new to our clinic; there was no established relationship of trust. His wife of many years was seen for the first time and immediately hospitalized with no expectation to live out the week.
On following First day I found myself sinking into God’s healing love. I felt an overwhelming gratitide, both for the Divine and for the Friends gathered round me.
I realized that “doing nothing” in meeting make me much better at my job. I could listen and I could wait with him. I could avoid the sometimes overwhelming temptation to try and fix things. I could wait for openings rather than challenge unwise decisions that arose from his grief and shock. I could do nothing and yet do everything by just being there. I could quietly set up safety nets.
I know from past experience that “doing nothing” in isolation is not enough. Part of being a Quaker is being in community. I need to attend meeting each week because “doing nothing” with my Friends supports me, nurtures me and challenges me. The absence of any one member diminishes the gathered meeting in subtle but vital ways. I say a prayer of gratitude for each Friend sitting with me “doing nothing” and sustaining my faith. For me, it is everything.