We are most grateful for the Spirit’s movement among us. We believe we accomplished more as a whole than we might have individually. We experienced this movement in acts of
kindness among us, in feelings of gathered Meetings for worship, for business, for sharing, for healing, and as we labored together through committees and long business meetings. In the spiritual practice of discussing revision of yearly meeting queries, in participating in adult discussions at Connections, and during teaching and learning with the children of our community, different ones of us felt the Spirit moving. Through the power of this Spirit we were kept open to the possibility of new messages.
In varied worship settings, the growth of the Spirit has been like a seed maturing and growing strong in the tension between the nurture of renewed connection with our spiritual Source and the challenging demands of our work for compassion and justice at many levels.
The Spirit enabled growth in our ability to see and hear things we would not otherwise be able to consider. We were blessed to have two different types of Meeting for Worship, not just two different times. The early worship hour is sometimes completely silent, which leads some to think perhaps we are becoming timid in speaking out, yet others found totally silent meetings special times of growth. Though Worship may be quiet, “after thoughts” and community time after that worship hour have sent the worship out onto the lawn and into our lives. Later worship has a slightly different rhythm, as 45 minutes into the hour the spiritual energies of young Friends and teachers coming from First-Day School are wondrously fused with those of the often deeply gathered group already in the room. (Our younger Friends’ growth was evident when two vocal messages, an article in the newsletter, and a note to the Clerk came from our young people after they returned from Quaker camps.) Some were saddened at times when the words Friends spoke in meeting did not seem to arise from the promptings of the Spirit, but from personal emotions. However, even these kinds of messages were opportunities to listen more deeply for the voice of Divine Wisdom.
Great growth also came when we acted in shared projects such as painting and cleaning our building and hosting homeless women in the new community hall, which helped redeem the angst from the previous years’ building expansion. Announcements after each Meeting for Worship and in the newsletter reminded us of work going on through our committees, through wider Quaker bodies, and elsewhere in our community and the world. Growth was fostered by not burdening or expecting too much and by abandoning assumptions and preconceptions. It sometimes seemed that the less we asked, the more freely the Spirit came.
The manifestations of the Spirit came not only in easy, joyful times, but also in rough times as in the plowing of the soil to allow new seeds and growth. Overseers and others responded to difficulties such as health crises, lost savings and lost jobs; but with the presence of the Spirit we saw hardships and adversity become great teachers. Some continuing friction within the Meeting meant that some people stopped coming, but in many instances our connections were made stronger. We tried to deal with anger, lack of trust, and feelings of neglect in a spirit of love and caring. There was a sense that we can be known here, and that our presence together is an act of worship.
The Spirit was made manifest as the Worship room enabled us to see the Goodness in one another and as Friends gave one another strength and courage in difficult times. The Spirit was made manifest in both the community and in the world when Friends supported one another to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.