JANE’S FALLS: We can do much more on this front. Affirming individuals and families with the love and prayers of our faith community is essential. Yet we are also aware of instances in which we have felt unprepared or ill equipped to respond adequately. In this cases, counseling may best occur outside our immediate Meetings, through the confidentiality of trained therapists. Our Meetings should be prepared to have available the names of suitable, licensed pastoral counselors to assist in marital or family conflicts, personal or career decisions, separation/divorce, coping with loss, the psychological aspects of physical illness, crisis points in individual growth, or the healing of deep psychic wounds. Our Meetings might also consider bearing some of the costs of such counseling, if necessary.

Where Meetings are blessed with the presence of children, there may be many opportunities for members to step in and assist families in day-to-day activities, as well as more formal situations.

SYCAMORE GROVE: The greater the extent a Meeting can become a place of openness and loving acceptance, the more likely its ability to be sensitive to the problems within individual families.

For me, the concept of Small Group, a largely Mennonite phenomenon, has been quite helpful in strengthening and enriching my life both in Rehoboth and now in the Boston area. I suspect there is a role it can play within many of our Meetings, especially the larger and more diverse ones. The Small Group is a covenant body, usually of six to sixteen people, who agree to meet periodically – whether it be weekly, every other week, or even once a month – to share meals, singing, group study, prayer, fellowship, discipleship, whatever – and to provide a “safe place” to express their life’s struggles in a trusting, nonjudgmental, loving, and confidential circle. Often, these bodies are comprised of couples, but there is also a place for singles such as myself. Its members are often within a single generational span, and share similar difficulties and goals – young professionals who have moved to the city, for instance. (Emerson Lasher’s The Muppie Manual: The Mennonite Urban Professional’s Handbook for Humility and Success covers some of this in a humorous and revealing manner.) It requires commitment, however, and a degree of unity.

Submit to one another out of a reverence for Christ. – Ephesians 5: 12

WILLOW BROOK: We both wonder if my introverted ways are better fitted to a monastic existence, one focused more on my writing than on dealing with others. Is there any resolution?

~*~

For more Seasons of the Spirit, click here.

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