Many people join us from "away," either by retiring here to Maine or joining us during their summer sojourns. Plus we have a number of members and attenders who come from a different faith background. Questions and contrasts are bound to pop up.
Julia recently said that being good and proper is no longer a simple matter of "Is my skirt the right number of inches long?" She shared about that change from a prescribed and directed life she'd experienced as a child to the one where she is constantly considering what would be the "Quaker" thing to do. She decided that, for her, it was to act with "love."
There followed a lot of thoughtful sharing about what each of us might consider core, what we connect to about the Society of Friends, how each of us might answer "what is the Quaker thing to do?" People shared:
- "What is it that you Quakers believe?" can be challenging for a group to come up with a single response. For me, it is to "try what love will do."
- Some faiths require people to promise or pledge to believe a particular creed all their life. The speaker thought that he couldn't do that. The lack of a lifetime oath or promise gives him the freedom to change and the responsibility to be a searcher.
- Seeking that of God in everyone. Including myself.
- Listening for the Inner Voice.
- Having no separation between my secular and my spiritual life. Living my life in a way that expresses my inner Light.
- Quaker structure is bottom-up rather than top-down.
- We are in community together in our seeking, a Society. We support and nourish each other. We are not some solitary people off alone meditating someplace. Corporate worship brings the Spirit to us as we open to it.
All Friends can agree that outward statements of belief are an insufficient basis for a life of faith. Friends aim at an inward knowledge of the Spirit - both individually and in our Meetings. The core of our faith is our living relationship with and obedience to God, not merely the rote recitation of creeds or performance of rituals.