How To For Quakers
When I started attending Memphis Friends Meeting, I talked with long-time members about silent worship, about finding God in daily experiences, and about being a part of a spiritual community. Their words gave me some insight into what being a Quaker is about. Then one day I came across a small yellow pamphlet called Faith and Practice.
I brought it home thinking it might be interesting. What I found was an absolute treasure! As I read the opening section about Meeting for Worship, it was as if the writer was speaking directly to me.
“What prevents the silent waiting of worship from being mere silence is the living spiritual activity of those waiting in silence. The quality of worship is enhanced by the practice of God’s presence in everyday life, the cultivation of the Spirit and actions taken in response to the Spirit. In this sense all life in the Spirit is preparation for worship, as worship is preparation for life. “
“So that’s what it’s all about,” I thought. It’s not just a time to sit quietly and seek my own personal connection to God, it’s about all of us believing that we can connect with a Higher Power – all the time, not just on First Day.
Because I love organizational structure, I had been attending Meeting for Business regularly. I had always heard that Quakers rely on consensus in decision-making. But what a surprise! Faith & Practice clarified what we are really doing.
“Meeting for business is a meeting for worship with a concern for business. Our business procedure expresses our faith that the light, if heeded, draws all into agreement. Friends make decisions not by vote nor by compromising a variety of positions, but by full and prayerful consideration discerning a corporate ‘sense of the meeting.’ Friends believe that decisions reached in this way carry with them an inward consent of the persons involved, rather than mere outward conformity.”
“Oh,” I thought. We’re not just discussing the Meeting’s business in a thoughtful way. It’s a “meeting for WORSHIP for business.” And there are clear instructions about how we treat each other while doing business.
During times of strife, Faith and Practice has these words for us:
“Friends believe in the power of love to evoke the inherent worth of others. We are called to accept and love all persons in spite of transgressions, confrontations, or apparent differences. As members of the human community, we try to recognize that differences spring from varied experiences and that only through love, compassion, and understanding can these differences be reconciled.”
Wouldn’t it make sense to read that quote every time we succumb to our natural human tendency to become angry and hurt? If we all keep those words in mind, Memphis Friends Meeting will continue to be what we are meant to be – a beacon of Light in our community and our world.