Quaker Revival in West Philadelphia, 12/6/12

So I went to the Quaker Revival in West Philadelphia on 12/6/12. I missed potluck and the very beginning of the service, because I went there right from the annual joint meeting of the Advisory Council and Board of Directors for the organization where I work, after which I had to help clean up. Micah Bales and Robin Mohr have written about it already and reported accurately, in my opinion. I have something personal to add. Really, it was a semi-programed meeting for worship, with rollicking music just at the start, and a few Friends asked to be prepared to bring a message to share as vocal ministry. There was a good crowd in the parlor (where the organizers were sitting) and the living room of the home where we met. I was waiting for someone to break through the ceiling and lower a pallet down with someone on it who couldn’t get through the crowd. Because I got there late, and for a variety of other circumstances, I ended up standing in the back, in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room. At first, I was slumping against the door frame, a bit tired, and wondering if I should mind being in the next room or not, two rooms away. Then I was transformed in the twinkling of an eye. I thought I could stand like a steward at the ready waiting for a call to help. And that helped! I stood with better posture, with my hands clasped behind my back, and felt better both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I was authentically in “waiting” worship, in the classic phrase of Friends. After a while, my biceps fell asleep, which was a first for me. It felt odd to have my arms flop forward when I reached for something. No pins and needles, just floppy! I found the vocal ministry generally rich and speaking deeply, and sometimes “to my condition” directly and sometimes less so. I do think the messages are still working their way through me, too, over a week later. Overall, the revival meeting was somewhat similar to convergent Friends events Robin and I have participated in. So while she and I may have been a bit jaded, in the sense that this wasn’t spectacularly new and eye-opening (see her post), yet I felt like it was a time of spiritual refreshment and good worship together as a group. The revival meeting closed promptly at 9 pm, which was helpful to us as we had our 9th and 5th graders with us, and it was a school night. It meant we didn’t spend as long socializing at the end as we might have liked, but we did give a ride home to a Friend who had been at one of the original convergent events with Wess and Emily Daniels after Pacific Yearly Meeting in the mid-2000s. PS Micah quotes from Philipians in his 2nd post after the event. That was the book I was reading ahead of the event, thinking there might be a message for me to give! It didn't quite rise to that level, but it's reassuring to know it was on another Friend's heart as well.


Guided by...

A Friend today talked about wanting to worship with others who felt guided by something bigger than themselves, and that has agency. He doesn't care if that's God, or Christ, or Truth in an a-theist view. As long as there's that sense of something bigger. People who attend Quaker meetings without that are there for the culture of Quakers, not the faith tradition -- the religious society, as we're called.

What stood out for me was the word "guided."

I haven't been feeling very guided lately, at least not on a personal level. I moved to Philadelphia from San Francisco because my wife Robin M. is very much led to do the work she is currently employed to do, with the Friends World Committee for Consultation Section of the Americas.

Fortunately, we found a place to rent (though that's turning into a whole nother story lately), a school for our children, and a job for me that's just a few blocks away from Robin's work and the boys' school. I particularly don't take that last item for granted -- in the words of Quakers, "Way opened" for me, in a big way.

My life is focused on helping care for our family, doing my paid work, and doing one volunteer job that is rather substantial. Otherwise, I read Facebook, try to stay current on email, and read books that at least alternate between fluff and seriousness. But I'm not pursuing much in the way of an individual spiritual practice.

I attend meeting at Green Street the Sundays we're home, but I seem to be elsewhere many Sundays. Last weekend we went to Gwynedd Meeting in Montgomery County, and visited an aunt and uncle nearby afterwards; and two weeks ago, we went to 15th Street Meeting in New York City, where Robin and I met. Both of those opportunities came about because of Robin's work engagements. So I'm not as involved in my monthly meeting as I used to be. (Well, even if I were still in San Francisco, I wouldn't be quite as involved in my meeting as I used to be, because last spring I completed four years as clerk of the meeting; that was the right thing to do whether or not we had left.)

It's not surprising that I feel a bit unmoored (haha!) after leaving the area where I'd been living the last 16 years, and where Robin & I learned to be parents, and which had been where our children were born and had lived their lives until then.

But hey, today we went to meeting and then the Woodmere Art Museum where both our boys had pieces in the show of their school's art. Our younger son got to play outside quite a bit in the spring weather, and I did a little yard work and sat on the front porch to read a book about particle physics. And ate homemade pumpkin pie after a substantial dinner. So I certainly am blessed and have much to be grateful for. May I remain open to Guidance.