This First Day, due to uncontrollable circumstances at home -- cat-related; I need say no more, and you may laugh, as long as it's sympathetic -- I arrived late at Meeting for Worship. I joined Beloved Wife, who'd actually gone to Meeting ahead of me and gotten there early.
I gratefully settled into worship next to her in the bright sunshine.
Our Meeting tends to have numerous copies of both Britain Yearly Meeting's Faith and Practice and the Advices and Queries, a small booklet separated out from F&P, scattered throughout the Meeting room.
Although its immediacy had faded somewhat in my daily life, my concern was very much present in my worship.
I found myself looking through Advices and Queries for something to help deepen my worship around it. Three of them stayed with me, and after a while I found my heart pounding in what might be that tell-tale way. (All together with me, now: Oh, please, no, not after coming in late...)
I ended up reading them aloud.
Which led to even deeper nuances for me in each of them. Hmmmmmmm.
(If you'd like to hear them read aloud, click on the "Out loud" link after each one below, then on the video.) (I admit I do not sound like either of these readers.)
16. Do you welcome the diversity of culture, language and expressions of faith in our yearly meeting and in the world community of Friends? Seek to increase your understanding and to gain from this rich heritage and wide range of spiritual insights. Uphold your own and other yearly meetings in your prayers. (Out loud.)
17. Do you respect that of God in everyone though it may be expressed in unfamiliar ways or be difficult to discern? Each of us has a particular experience of God and each must find the way to be true to it. When words are strange or disturbing to you, try to sense where they come from and what has nourished the lives of others. Listen patiently and seek the truth which other people's opinions may contain for you. Avoid hurtful criticism and provocative language. Do not allow the strength of your convictions to betray you into making statements or allegations that are unfair or untrue. Think it possible that you may be mistaken. (Out loud.)
38. If pressure is brought upon you to lower your standard of integrity, are you prepared to resist it? Our responsibilities to God and our neighbour may involve us in taking unpopular stands. Do not let the desire to be sociable, or the fear of seeming peculiar, determine your decisions. (Out loud.)
Just after worship, I had several lovely conversations with Friends unrelated to my vocal ministry, one difficult but lovely conversation related to my vocal ministry -- and to gossip -- and one hard but good conversation about local issues and my concern.
To my surprise, none of Britain Yearly Meeting's Advices and Queries seems to address gossip.
So today I went looking in North Pacific Yearly Meeting's Faith and Practice (my home Yearly Meeting), and searched the Advices and Queries to see what I might find there:
Our need for love and care, and our response to this need in others, make up a rich part of our lives. In an exchange truly grounded in love, each of us is both giver and receiver, ready to help and accept help. Neither pride nor fear keeps us from the unconditional love and care of God manifested through others. Let neither comfort nor self-centeredness blind us to need of others.
We listen to one another with openness of heart and in good faith, aware that greater wisdom than our own is required to meet our human needs. We lift up our hearts to the Source of all wisdom and power.
Are we charitable with each other? How careful are we of the reputation of others? Do we avoid hurtful criticism and gossip?
So, I leave you to ponder these Advices and Queries.
The Goddess, the Gods, the Spirit, not sure what the best word is, have been active in my life lately. Things have been both challenging, and good; very both/and. (I really don't want to give the impression I've been thoroughly miserable lately; far from it. But well-challenged and kind of tender, yes.)
I am sustained by the support of friends and Friends, and by good Quaker process. Blessed be.