For October at Quaker Meeting the topic for the queries was “personal relationships.” Some of the questions that were offered as a catalyst for meditation:
Do I make my home a place of friendliness, joy, and peace, where residents and visitors feel God’s presence?
Are my sexual practices consistent with my spiritual beliefs and free of manipulation and exploitation?
What barriers keep me from responding openly and lovingly to each person?
For the Meeting community:
Do we open our thoughts, beliefs, and deep understandings to our children and others who share our lives and our hospitality?
Do we provide our children and young adults with a framework for active, ongoing participation in the Meeting?
With the polarization of the political factions in our country the past few weeks, I’ve found myself cynically responding to those who believe differently than I do. However a few times I was able to step away from my own dogmatism and have a conversation about the issues with another person who believed differently than me. I found that when I did this I could find a space of common ground and that it fostered tolerance and kindness between us, rather than a feeling of hostility. I am grateful for those bridge-building moments. They’ve buoyed me through the morass of negativity that’s coming from the media right now.
I had the interesting experience of clerking a Quaker committee meeting on Sunday, where we learned about and debated the merits of the various California ballot Propositions. By happenstance the attendees of the meeting were all men who were about 20 years older than me. We had a vigorous and enjoyable discussion. I felt that everyone’s opinions were valued even if we completely disagreed on many of the measures. What the attendees of that meeting probably didn’t realize, was that I was totally reeling with the experience–because in a Mormon context I would never have had the opportunity or the responsibility to conduct a meeting of older men. Nor would I have asserted my opinion as one of equal weight as those of men (because all LDS men who are over the age of 12 hold the priesthood and are therefore given the role of mouthpiece for God–I’m simplifying it a bit, but my teenage son could say prayers and administer rituals that no Mormon woman ever could, at any age).
When I consider the last query above about how the Meeting offers opportunities for everyone to participate…and I think about my having led a church meeting in a manner that so clearly emphasized the equality of gender and age, I feel happy that I worship with Friends. Because equality is important to me.