That of God in everyone

M&O Belated November Update

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(Apologies to Will for the late posting of this blog entry)


In South Belfast, while a few of us were brought up in Quaker families, most started to attend Meeting later in life. So we remember well that slightly strange experience of our first time at Meeting. Since sitting in silence, in company, was not a norm of my childhood , it certainly had a strong impact for me - a combination of worrying about my wandering mind, the impact of the some short, pointed ministry, the lovely plainness of the surroundings and the friendliness of Friends.

Over the years, this has become a part of my way of living. An hour's silence - or mainly silence - has become a norm, and an important space. It is a key marker in the week, a time to reflect, to rebuild.

Of course not all has been rich. My wind still wanders! As I get older, I fear I "rest with my eyes shut" more than I mean to! At times it has been barren, and only the friendliness of Friends has helped.

It therefore was interesting to read a piece about spiritual relaxation in The Guardian recently, by Emma Beddington, who commented

"I have no faith, and finding what gives me those feelings seems a longer-term undertaking. Instead, I turn to the only spiritual thing I know well: a Quaker silent meeting. I was educated by the Quakers, a faith group whose conception of God is simultaneously so expansive and so minimalist (they believe there is “that of God in everyone”), it’s hard to feel uncomfortable about it. Silent meeting – an hour of silence, interrupted occasionally by anyone who feels moved to speak – is the only kind of meditation I can manage. I turn up, get a warm, no-fuss welcome, sit down, and enjoy the silence. Sometimes I examine my thoughts; sometimes I look at people’s jumpers. I can see the blue sky out of a window; mainly I look at that. It’s the deepest peace I feel all week."

But it is the attached note, found by our Friend, Felicity Boyd, that I think most helpfully sets out good guidance for first Meetings. Let us support all newcomers, and approach them very much in this spirit. And if you are that new comer, we are indeed delighted to see and welcome you.

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The Ministry and Oversight team - Felicity, Jonathan, Kerry, Marie, Michael, Sylvia and Will