May 2023 – Faithful? Meetings

By Mary Linda McKinney

 

I introduced spiritual formation to a new community that is participating in Faithful Meetings last week. As I explained the why and what and how of spiritual formation, a Friend raised their hand and asked, “Will this help us become a faithful meeting? What do you mean by “faithful”?

This is such a good question I feel I should have answered it when I first began creating materials to promote Faithful Meetings and yet I am so inside the idea of faithfulness that it never even occurred to me I should define it.

The way I think of faithfulness for myself is that I put myself in alignment with the Divine generative energy that wants to flow through me. I call this energy “God” and experience it as both universal and completely intimate. But I don’t think everyone must understand or experience it as I do.

For me, a faithful meeting is one in which the individuals know and trust one another enough to be able to be our fullest selves, flaws and gifts included, together. When we trust that we are accepted, we can “give over” our individual preferences and agendas to seek a sense of unity together.

Again, I experience this unity as coming from God but I don’t think you have to believe in a divine source to experience it. I have been in profoundly deep business meetings with Friends that included a full-spectrum of Quaker beliefs and orientations, including a number of non-theists. We don’t have to all share language or understandings of the “more” in order to share experiences of unity when we trust one another enough to cease asserting ourselves and our individual wills.

When Friends can feel safe enough to bring our authentic selves together and talk with one another about what we believe and what we wonder and what we’ve experienced, we can meet at a truer place and then come together to do the work of the community with a sense of being gathered. For me, this is a faithful meeting.

What does faithfulness mean to you? How might you define what makes a faithful meeting? Feel free to share your thoughts in the forum!

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