I used to stress about whether or not Friends were “doing it right” in Meeting for Worship. How can we have a good, legitimate Meeting for Worship if half the Friends gathered think that this is individual meditation, or don’t understand how we’re trying to listen to God, or think that reading a prepared poem is appropriate? I was also frustrated with myself for being so judgmental, but it was still a concern I got stuck on. I realized recently that this is no longer a big issue for me.
A little over a year ago I began attending a new Friends Meeting regularly. At the same time I was in the midst of intense grief for my brother who had died a few months prior, and was dealing a whole slew of struggles that came with that grief. I felt spiritually disconnected, and had no energy to give God any serious, conscious consideration. Yet I still went to Meeting.
Each First Day I got on the 9am bus in order to get to 10:30 worship in the city, no matter how late I was up the night before. Having no spiritual focus, I would sit in meeting and spend the whole time doing something quite other than worship – I would stare into space, focus only on staying awake, or silently cry with my grief. Many First Days those first few months I would leave without talking to anyone. Even those days when I arrived, spaced out, and then left were worth the trek.
I wondered about this for some time; if Meeting for Worship was meaningful without me being able to Worship, there must be something more to it. This year, as I continue to catch that same 9am bus every First Day, this Meeting feels like home to me. Friends there recognize me, are excited to see me, and I find myself engaged in conversation with more and more regular attenders. What I’ve found is that even during those months of no focus and little fellowship, I had slowly been building a relationship with the community, just by being consistently present.
I was speaking to a friend of mine about this last month and she mentioned something else that I find striking. She said that I had been practicing just being. It’s true. If nothing else, when I had no focus, I was just being, nothing else, and it was a good practice.
Now when I sit in Meeting for Worship I often marvel at how we are all sitting together, just being. Being together. I no longer worry if people are focused or are “doing it right”, because that’s not as important as our waiting together, being together, and building community together, one moment at a time. God is with us and among us, no matter what.
Much love to all,