by Christopher Sammond
Two weeks ago I had the real pleasure of facilitating a workshop on Opening to the Heart of Worship with Friends from Milwaukee Monthly Meeting. It was a wonderful time of exploring some of the nuts and bolts of our practice of worship- the “spiritual mechanics” of how to engage deeply in our practice. One thread that ran through our work together was the through-line of how we nurture our spirits during the week, how that is a large part of preparation for worship, and how worship is something that we create together through what each of us brings. I offered the metaphor of worship being a potluck, one in which I sometimes bring only stale corn chips. Other times, I bring lasagna. On days when most of us bring only stale corn chips, we are unlikely to have a good feast of the Spirit.
In our closing session on Sunday, I was surprised and a bit dismayed to hear how some Friends had heard that metaphor. They thought I was saying we should work to have ourselves all together when we arrive in worship. That was not at all what I meant.
For me, the spiritual nurture during the week means being in touch where the Divine and I meet. Sometimes that leaves me feeling centered and in my strength. Other times, it leaves me something of a hot mess as I work to come to terms with what I sense is being asked of me. What is the case at both ends of that continuum is that I feel open and vulnerable, connected to the Divine, in relationship. When I bring that openness and vulnerability, that deep humility of knowing I am not in control, that I need strength and guidance, then I am closer to bringing lasagna.
Often, in fact, those times when I think I have it all together, I am actually a fair ways off of being well connected to that inner Source of strength and guidance. Those are times when I am apt to forego my spiritual discipline that keeps that edge fresh and alive. It’s not about having ourselves all together. Rather, it’s about being open and vulnerable to all of who we are, which includes our hurts, our failures, our wounds, our tenderness, our longing, our hopes and having all that open and available to the Divine.
As Milwaukee Friends began to go deeper in our last session, we explored the power of letting go, and how that connects us to the Source. Some of that depth was reflected by several Friends each feeling a pull to a different song which was on their hearts. And some of that depth was reflected in some Friends hitting a bit of tenderness around old wounds. What we were experiencing together illustrates two important points. One is that our places of spiritual depth are very often quite close to, or intertwined with, places of old, deep hurt. And the other is that that place of spiritual depth is also the place where impulses for vocal ministry (and even leadings for our lives) arise.
Those two points are actually some of the foundational tenets of Participating in God’s Power. It is often in our brokenness, in encountering some of the “spiritual scar tissue” that we all carry, that we have our deepest encounters with the Divine. And in those depths, we access incredible strength, reliable guidance, joy, life, and empowerment.