Holy Silence and some queries

I've been feeling blah and tired lately. Something about going to FGC Gathering, buying a first home with four layers of financing in the deal, going to yearly meeting, and then unpacking boxes. It just kind of ... I don't know... leaves me feeling tired and blah!

I did just read Brent Bill's Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality. It was a bit of a tonic. I thought it would be helpful for a newcomer to meeting, because it explains with some quite lovely examples about Friends' worship and even the liturgy of silence worship (in much less academic terms than Pink Dandelion's academic treatise, Liturgies of Quakerism; I have to admit I didn't get far in that one yet after buying it from QuakerBooks at the FGC Gathering).

However, I also know that I'm way too deep into Quakerism myself to have a good idea of what it might be like for a person who's new. I'd love to hear what others have thought of it.

This past Sunday -- was it only yesterday? -- at San Francisco Meeting we had two pieces of vocal ministry. Mine was the first, reflecting on how Quakerism is a "listening spirituality" and not a "telling spirituality." One responsibility is to listen outside to others with our hearts and minds open. Our other responsibility is also to listen inside -- both to hear one's own truth about how one is doing, so one can express that to others clearly and not expect them to read one's mind; and also to hear Truth. And in U.S. culture, we're constantly being told what to think or do, so taking time to listen inside and outside ourselves really is countercultural.

I didn't quite express it that way. It was not an earth-shattering type of message, but it came back more than three times, and it felt right to speak, so I did.

The only other vocal ministry was from a visitor from the Isle of Jersey who had grown up Quaker and gone to a Quaker school, but had not attended meeting in nearly 20 years, and how grateful and moved he was to be among us that morning.

The real treat of the day was the third in a series of three morning discussions on the advices and queries. This time we did worship sharing around three queries, two from Pacific Yearly Meeting and one from Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). Does that count as syncretistic? Anyway, three queries worked surprisingly well together, and it was a very rich and centered time. One Friend called it a "feast," and I have to agree. Here they are:

Do I center my life in an awareness of God’s presence so that all things take their rightful place? (Pacific Yearly Meeting, Simplicity)

How are love and unity maintained among us? (Pacific Yearly Meeting, Meeting Community)

In what ways do we share our deepest experiences, struggles, concerns and beliefs… yet encourage [others] to develop their potential as the Spirit leads them? (Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative), Home and Family)

PS Another treat for the day was our friends David, A., and D. playing with Nine Year Old and Five Year Old so we could do some unpacking.

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