from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel
On the evening of December 4, Friends gathered at the Meetinghouse for a pizza/potluck supper, fellowship, and worship sharing on this year’s query from the Ministry & Nurture Committee of Lake Erie Yearly Meeting. As requested by that committee, we asked a recorder to draft a minute reflecting our leadings on this query. With welcome speed, the recorder proposed the minute printed below, and this minute was approved by all present.
Ann Arbor Friends Meeting Response to the
2009 Lake Erie Yearly Meeting Query
Thirty or more Ann Arbor Friends shared from the well of our experiences of the Divine in response to the following query sent by LEYM:
What experiences have you had of wonder and awe?
What experiences have you had of the Light or the Divine?
What helps you open yourself to these experiences and what gets in the way?
What practices do you have to deepen these experiences?
How do we support each other in this awareness?
How do we support our children in their spiritual journeys?
Can we call these awe-filled moments experiences of God? Experiencing nature, art, and music fill us with awe in many colors. Even in the everyday we can have that sense of wonder: with the cries of a newborn child, a wild animal, or the trees talking to each other in the wind. God is with us in the woods and over the waves and by the waterfall. We live in grace as fish live in water – the awareness of it can come unexpectedly.
We can live through difficulties or narrow escapes from death and then life goes safely on. Mystery in the everyday; mystery in science – the wondrous way the world works, the seen and the unseen.
Anger, grief, or longing can get in the way of experiencing the openness of wonder. These emotions can also bring us close to God, for in truly feeling those things, we can realize that God is there with open arms to receive us.
We can practice by just sitting still with a stone, a tree, or a leaf, connecting to it and thus to everything else. Preparations for these experiences can be simply letting go, listening, and being open. Waiting in line can be transformed into a precious opportunity to be with God – waiting together in silence can bring a sense of support and caring, of being filled with love.
Transcendence can happen for all of us, not just special people. We have each other – those we know are caring about us even when we’re not together in the flesh. We can remind each other by small gestures. When least expecting it, we can be called upon to help others in need or grief and we are given the strength to offer what is needed.
It is important to support our children by showing love, particularly when they aren’t feeling connected to others or to what adults are talking about. Does the ability to recognize and name an experience of God mean that moment is more real, more Divine than unnamed deep experiences? We often need to stand back and watch our children grow. Look again. The humdrum may offer a door to the mystery.