From my window this morning I see the remaining yellow birch leaves looking weary, ready to fall. The cloud cover obscures what was just yesterday a brilliant scene, like a party when the music has stopped and everyone is tired and ready to go home. So today, rather than feeling the urge to go outside and play in the sunshine, I am drawn to write, for the first time in a long while.
What came to me yesterday in worship was a message about commitment. At a wedding I attended this weekend, the bride and many of the guests work together in the Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition. Someone said, “It’s like we’re all getting married!” It struck me that our group is bound by both love and commitment, yes, sort of like being married. When a couple, or a band, or a social action group feels that sense of being drawn together by something greater than themselves, i.e., love, they can deal with winds of conflict or temporary lapses.
When I first encountered Quakers in Fairbanks (actually my first encounter with Quakers anywhere), I noticed how they loved each other, how they laughed and played in many different settings outside of the Meeting. Now that I have been deeply connected with this Meeting for almost 30 years, I still feel the bonds of love and commitment, and I think our light still shines in the community, but we don’t laugh and play together often enough. I want others to say, as pagans reportedly said about the early Christians, “See how they love one another!” (Tertullian, The Apology, ch. 39).
Commitment to a cause, to a person, or to a spiritual path, when freely chosen and frequently affirmed, can be joyful and fulfilling. So my question this morning is: Which of my many commitments are truly fulfilling and which am I doing from a sense of duty? Which can I let go, like the leaves falling from the trees?