Dear Friends, About a year ago, I attended a workshop at a Friends meeting focused on exploring Spirit in our lives. Our two workshop leaders were seasoned Friends who have engaged with Quakers throughout the United States and the UK.
The first surprise for me was noticing how many people showed up for the workshop. From thirty-somethings to retirees we were about 60 in number. The first exercise was to get in a circle, which encompassed the entire monthly meeting’s worship room. At our leaders request, we went around the circle and each of us introduced ourselves and what had brought us to Quakers and what kept us in Quakers. At the completion of this exercise, we learned that about 50% of us found peace and Spirit in silent worship, while the remaining 50% focused on the peace and social justice work of Quaker testimony as our reasons for remaining within the Quaker community.
Our workshop leaders then began a process of exploring individual, but common, reactions to the various ways in which we discuss God, Spirit, and divinity. As we are part of the unprogrammed Quakers it was not surprising to note that many of us were uncomfortable with “God” language. However, it was also clear that there were many among us who felt quite comfortable with God, but very uncomfortable with Christo-centric language that implied that the speaker “had the answer” that everyone else should accept.
By the time we concluded our evening’s workshop, it was clear to me that Spirit – led lives were being demonstrated before us. It also seemed that the majority of workshop attenders were not so much uncomfortable with God and Christo-centric language, but were resistant to the implied message from the speaker that there was only one way to seek out and or worship God/Divinity/Spirit.
My personal conclusion has been one that has been with me most of my adult life. I continue to believe that each of us is on our own spiritual journey, with our own determinations and questions. It does not matter where I might fall on the belief or spiritual continuum, but it does increase openness and acceptance when I realize that each human has his or her own path to follow. I do know that in seeking understanding, I tend to focus on the kindness that one demonstrates rather than on the words one uses to explain behavior.
My hope is that we can share in our Light while respecting each other’s spiritual paths.