So, I got an appointment for spiritual guidance from the deacon of the congregation, a compassionate, wise woman. I informed her that I was making myself go to worship, I truly did not wish to be there. Her response surprised me: “I recommend you not return to worship until you want to.” Some persons would think she was being untrue to her vocation and the church. I could see the wisdom. Whatever God would be, if loving, that God would not be honored by or desirous that I drag myself to worship every Sunday out of mere duty. And, if God is God, my giving time for the want-to to be present, well, that would not upset the cosmic plan of that God at all.
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After coming to Maine, I began to feel a desire, after these years, to give church a chance again, so to speak. I wanted to try the Quakers, or Society of Friends, as I had visited varied Meetings on Sundays over the years. I chose this, for Quakers are more inclusive than most Christian congregations. I differentiate Quakers and Christian congregations, for Quakers include persons of many beliefs, including Christians and those who would not identify as Christians, though Quakers began as a Christian sect.
The Meeting I began attending is unprogramed, as those I attended in the past: no music, no pastor, no preaching, … sitting in Silence together, receptive to the Light, sometimes someone speaking for feeling an inner guidance to address the gathered Meeting, … Now, I am sensing, after visiting many Meetings over the last decade, a first sense of inner guidance that it is time for me to put my name on the line and be a Friend. To consider this, means a lot of inner work has happened, for due to many hurtful, wounding experiences in religious community, I have done all I could not to belong to a spiritual community. Yet, I find it amazing, how sitting in the Silence with others can be healing, and how together we can touch and be touched by that Ground from which life springs into its many forms and fashions on Earth, and beyond.
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I am sure the deacon had no idea it would take years for me to want to belong again to a faith group. I am sure my parents, as my other family, immediate and extended, would never have dreamed this man would even be sitting in a group of Friends. Yet, Grace works that way, when we get out of the way. And, of course, usually in these sacred surprises, someone was instrumental in the gift. That like the deacon, whom I remain grateful for, for she helped free me from the ought-to and to trust her God would lead me, if I would relax and trust, even when appearing to be running the other way.