Worshipping Among Conservative Friends (again)
Ceal and I arrived home last night after attending the 310th annual gathering of the North Carolina Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Conservative). Friends may remember me gushing about attending the meeting last year and wonder if I would have that same enthusiasm after another visit (I wondered this myself). I have to say my enthusiasm is different this year, it feels deeper - it wasn't all new to me, the sudden awakening experience of being among Friends who speak the same language as me was not much of a factor this year (upon reflection, last year was more a discovery of a language I had mostly lost or covered up). Instead, I found myself peacefully and joyfully refreshed by the ever-present spirit of worship.
There were remarkably few conversations about "what is Quakerism" or "liberal vs. conservative" or "theist vs. non-theist". For the most part, it was beyond that, and was at the place of "are we serving God as best we can?" or "how can we do better"? I felt that there was a good balance of inward-vs-outward service to God - there was a deep sense of care for our world and its inhabitants that permeated the meetings.
I found after the closing worship a sadness in feeling a little disconnected. I felt like someone from across the country attending a family reunion where the family members all live close to each other. It wasn't a feeling of abandonment or feeling unwelcome, there was a longing to have a more constant fellowship with them.
I know that once again this meeting changed me for the better, and in ways that I may not recognize for some time (maybe never). I'll probably have more to say about it in the days and weeks ahead.