Thursday, December 11, 2014

Local Lights and Quaker Quirks

This week Midcoast Outreach and Peace Center is in the midst of a perfect trifecta:
  • Being the locale for a gathering of the Friends Committee on Maine Public Policy on Saturday, 
  • having families for MFW (Meeting for Worship); a first day about various celebrations of light; and lighting our new (solar) light for Lima as part of a world-wide climate action vigil on Sunday.
  • a rental this coming Saturday featuring a local preschool's family holiday gathering.  
With these three events we address concerns common to Friends, outreach to families and have a rental which helps support us. It's a busy time for me, juggling everything from cooking latkas for the family program, booking rentals, decorating for winter, to shoveling the ramp before an event -- the usual sort of things for outreach.

But the best part this week has been the chance for reflection that conversations with new people bring. Meeting regulars have been asked, "Is Meeting for Christians?" and "Can I doodle in Meeting?" and "Can you be a Quaker and not be a member of a Meeting?"

Trying to give specific answers often leads to sharing what we don't have (creeds, confessionals, ornate rituals, for instance) instead of what we do have (such as the Inner Teacher, Testimonies).  We hope not to appear uncertain when we say that individual and group discernment often leads different Quakers to different conclusions at different places. It's the why behind the differences that makes a coherent whole, I think.

So, this week I've talked about some of my "quirks:"why I am comfortable with children using my first name rather than a title, why I try not to repeat their words "to be sure everyone heard" in circle, and why we work for consensus in committee meetings.  Since we all have that of God, or the Light, within us we are all equal in that regard. That means I'm careful not to use titles to set up false power hierarchies. I try not to speak for children instead of encouraging them to expect attention in their own right and repeat themselves when necessary. I school myself to be patient when we make group decisions, so that everyone is heard and able to believe in the way forward. These are all outward practices that I find consistent with my belief that we all have access to the Light.

Happy holidays, dear reader. May your days be filled with Light.