Attending Community Meeting for Worship, 2003
Earlier this fall, after dropping my son off – actually walking with him into the school for the first time since the very first day – and going out for a quick cup of coffee with another mom, I settled into the small group of facing chairs in the Meeting Room. Since it was only the second week of school, the children still had their (brief) meetings for worship inside their classrooms. The adults – about ten parents, staff and board members – met in silence in the central hall. During that half hour, children came in and out, to visit the bathroom or other classrooms. We could hear teachers speaking and general noises of a school in session. Yet for me, the expectant hush among us was worshipful - full of the Spirit. The noises were food for contemplation, not interruptions. I had a deep sense of the power of having a core of adults worshipping together at the center of the school, with the classes going on all around us.
Nowadays, the children come in and sit in a square in the center of the Meeting Room. The adults sit or stand in rows around them. There are still noises of children (and adults) fidgeting, whispering, settling in. Last week, just for an example, my own son was so caught up in pretending to be some creature with fangs that a teacher had to remind him to hold his body still. (His sharply whispered response: “But I’m being silent!”) I try as much as possible to center down, to practice my best Sunday-go-to-meeting-techniques, but I can’t help just watching the children some of the time. However, it is a powerful image for me that now the adults are gathered around the children who are worshipping together at the center of the school. I have a sense of holding them in our arms, in our hearts, holding them up to God.
Both arrangements of meeting for worship speak profoundly of adults holding children in the Light, respecting their learning and supporting their spiritual growth. For me, this is one of the keys to Friends education. The monthly community-wide meeting for worship at SFFS has become a regular part of my spiritual practice. I am so pleased to be able to come to know my son’s school community in this way. I believe the school benefits as well from a regular period of retirement from their regular work, coming together into a quiet, open,and loving space in the midst of their everyday life.
Published in November 2003, in the San Francisco Friends School family newsletter.
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