Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Come prepared for Meeting for Worship.
This is the advise that we are given. Great. But what does it mean?
Slowly, I am coming to learn more of what it means for me to do that. There are certain things I know it means - making sure my body and clothes are clean, that I've had breakfast. It's important that I have walked or biked- some kind of stretching my body, and getting in touch with my physical self, as it is through my physical self that I hear and feel the Holy Spirit. I try to make sure I am well rested.It means being on time - and, when I can, which is often these days, being early, to hold myself, the meeting and the space we share.
Recently, I've been doing more than that, and have found it rewarding. I let the time on Sunday play on my mind during the week, let my mind go to the Friends who will gather there, hold them, however briefly, in the Light during my daily prayer/meditation practices. I read Quaker (and other) spiritual writings and reflections during the week. I let them work on me during the day. I integrate this with my other primary spiritual practice, which is making it much easier (as that one has much more structure to it). Sometimes on Sundays, I have some silence before I go in - 20 minutes of meditation, not necessarily worship, to prepare myself. I start gathering myself before I get there - sometimes, I start the process of gathering on Saturday. And it really does feel like some kind of internal gathering - picking up the pieces of myself that have scattered during the week, and bringing them back to myself. I do this in the mind that on Sunday I shall see other Friends who are also on a spiritual journey, seeking to know God's Love in their life, seeking to awaken and quicken the Spirit Within and Without. Because I know they are also seeking, I know I do not do this work alone, so I don't feel silly (even though, honestly, I don't know what they do).
I don't consider the daily spiritual work I do as 'preparing' for meeting for worship - I consider it essential to having some degree of sanity - wholeness - during my day to day life, and maintaining as close a connection as I can with that Spirit which brings me life and joy. I do this because if I don't, my life sucks much more than if I do. However, on some level, I know that daily work, when integrated with some conscious thought towards the Meeting, is really valuable.
And I take it seriously. I expect to meet God. I then try to let go of that expectation. I'm not very good at that.
One of the things I don't know how to handle is that during the week, I've been getting messages for Meeting for Worship. As I mentioned before, I'm doing a lot more ministry than I used to. It's great, I love it, and it is also vexing and difficult and challenging and makes me question a lot of who I am and who god is and who am I to be giving so much vocal ministry and to question my own integrity (often out of whack!) And I'm very, very grateful for it. It feels very, very rich. But I'm not sure about how to hold these messages I get during the week. Last week, I was conscious of much of hte life of the meeting - one attender is going through tremendous family upheavels, another has lost her mother, another has a baby just starting to walk - and it was Easter. I knew what the ministry was going to be that morning, and it happened as I thought it would - I didn't know exactly who, or exactly when, but I could feel the basic messages before hand. it was, well, trippy. I haven't had an experience like that. And I had had a message bubbling in me all week, and I gave it - not at all the way I thought I would, it came out very differently than it had in my head during the week, and I do think I was faithful.
This week, the same thing is happening - not the overarching shape of the meeting (I don't feel nearly as connected to the meeting this week for whatever reason) but the message that is bubbling in me. What does it mean to hand it over? What does it mean to be spontaneous in this manner? My plan is to try to empty myself as much as I can Sunday morning and then see what happens, and not expect that because I hear something now means i will hear something then. This is difficult, in part because I like the feeling of it. I like the sense of the closeness with self and god and others that comes with it. But it is vital, I know, not to let my ego get in the way. And expectations are some of the most devilish ways the ego comes in, clouding us from god's light.
I'm curious about other Friends experience in this manner.