SYCAMORE GROVE: A week ago, sitting in a restaurant and finding myself silently criticizing my waitress (who seemed far more interested in dancing to the music, talking on the telephone, etc., than in her duties), I came to a dreaded realization: I challenged myself to find one good thing to say about her – and couldn’t. A few minutes later, on the street, I ran into one of our reporters, who was so busy talking to one of her friends she didn’t see me as I tried to say hello; once again, I tried this exercise of finding one good quality and failed. This is not acceptable for a person who professes a faith that affirms “that of God in each person”! I’m recognizing that this exercise demands regular practice.
I find myself too often judgmental, in error when my faith separates me from other people. That is not “walk(ing) in love, as Christ also hath loved us.”
Agamenticus Meeting this week had three messages, all focusing on this. The first was a testimony of an individual’s struggle to be centered in all he does (a real challenge for a public television producer, somebody whose job can be pretty chaotic); he has come to ask not just “What can I do for the Lord?” but “Lord, what does thee want me to do now?” – with the emphasis on the now. The second message recalled Jesus’ advice to the man who came before the altar but still carried a grudge against his brother; the speaker reminded us of three steps in forgiveness: (a) Ask forgiveness, and begin this process in prayer; (b) Give a present, food or whatever; and (c), the hardest, Ask for something from that brother. The third message was from a man who has learned that the most important thing God wants him to do right now is TO LOVE – time after time. Perhaps this is some of what is meant by “pray without ceasing.”
The first sentence of this second query links forgiveness and love. I am finding, to my surprise, that forgiveness is much more difficult than I had thought and am sensing, buried somewhere deep within my psyche, some hurts that need to be located and dealt with. Until these are forgiven properly, loving myself as well as my neighbor may remain elusive. Professional counseling is helping in this struggle. At times, an individual may need to forgive and fully accept himself before he can do the same to others.
In living as a community of faith, where is the fine line between guarding the reputation of others and speaking up so that prompt action might be taken when members require counsel and care? Are we too often reticent to help one another within the Meeting community? Love is work, too.
“But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we may serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” – Romans 7:6
WILLOW BROOK: I recognize I’m getting old and more set in my ways, on one hand, and, paradoxically, less zealous, on the other. For now, I’m feeling less drawn to maintaining the local community. There is much on my plate demanding my attention.
For more Seasons of the Spirit, click here.