Monthly Archives: January 2017

Invitations

In our time of introductions and afterthoughts following meeting for worship yesterday, several people spoke their concerns about the ban on immigration. I didn’t speak, but later a Friend came up and said, “You seem to be in pain.” I guess my face showed what I was feeling. He offered the opportunity to express some of that feeling in words. This is an example of what several seasoned Friends have offered me over the years: the opening to go to a deeper level, to voice what is stirring in my heart.

This morning I am musing about the gift of inviting others to share more deeply, whether in clearness committees or ordinary conversation. In a meeting yesterday a Friend told of an experience in a clearness committee where he felt the rising of a difficult question but was hesitant to ask it. After several minutes of suppressing it, he finally could stand it no longer and put the question into words. It turned out to be a pivotal moment for all, allowing the focus person especially to look at an aspect of the situation that had not been acknowledged.

The movement of the Spirit in this way is not surprising in a setting where three or four are gathered to listen deeply. How about in everyday conversations with people? In the past few weeks there have been many opportunities with friends and even strangers to share our feelings of dismay, fear and outrage. I have tried to maintain a hopeful stance, taking the cue from President Obama in his farewell speech. “We the people” is not an abstraction. The need for collective action is bringing all sorts of people together to march, to contact their legislators, to pray.

But can we go deeper? How can I help to create spaces for people to search their own hearts and find the source of strength that will sustain them? Asking the right questions rooted in compassion and love is a gift. We don’t do it on our own. It is at the heart of being a spiritual nurturer, an elder, a Friend. Our world needs us to be there holding the spaces, inviting people to go beyond the anger and fear and into action guided by love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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God Rocks

One of the many Biblical metaphors for the Divine Presence/God is that of a rock. Many of these images, especially in the Psalms, relate to a place of refuge, a shelter from the storm. For example:

“Hear my cry, O God; Give heed to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a refuge for me, A tower of strength against the enemy. “ (Psalm 61: 1-3)

“Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; Be to me a rock of strength, A stronghold to save me. For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.” (Psalm 31:2-3)

“Trust in the LORD forever, For in God the Lord we have an everlasting Rock” (Isaiah 26:4)

Recently I have found myself yearning for a shelter, a refuge, a place of quiet from the storm. With the constantly shifting political landscape, it is tempting to find a place to hide and wait for the storm to pass. It helps me to know that I can retreat from time to time to rest, “Be to me a rock of habitation to which I may continually come.” (Psalm 71.3), but I know I can’t stay there. I feel the need to engage with my community and work together to create healthy alternatives to the forces of greed and exploitation and injustice.

Besides the image of refuge, rocks can also represent obstacles, challenges. For example, when we take our canoe down the Upper Chena River and I am in the bow, I constantly watch for submerged rocks that could hang us up. They are not places of refuge or safety. Maneuvering around them takes some skill, experience, communication, and trust. But they are part of the river, and they make the trip interesting.

Whether a rock is a refuge or a challenge may depend in part on where I am in my journey. Do I need a challenge to make things interesting, or do I need a respite from dealing with issues in the world? And I believe God is present in both situations, guiding me and giving me what I need.