Way Opens

Did you ever open a door a crack, and the wind pushed it wide open? And then maybe your favorite food blew in and landed on your plate?

That is a suggestion of how I feel right now.

Over the last couple of years, I had an awakening. I should say that more directly. Almost two years ago, I woke up to the reality that there were more Conservative-leaning liberal Friends than I had suspected. I started hearing about this “emergent church” concept. Then I found that there were Friends in those other branches that I had only vaguely heard about who were also kind of emergent and Conservative-leaning, in the Quaker sense. Once I was awake, I got (plainly) dressed and went out to meet some of them. There were some of my favorite kind of parties, where folks just hang out and eat a little and talk for a long time. There wasn’t usually a lot of planning involved, things just happened. And I came up with a word to describe these folks more efficiently: convergent Friends.

At the end of last summer, I accepted that this was a leading from God, not just an enthusiasm. At that point I didn’t know what I was going to do next, just that I needed to check in with my monthly meeting. So a clearness committee was appointed for me, and began meeting in October.

By now, I can clearly say that I have found Friends in different places, generations and branches of Friends who share a similar sensibility: who are seeking a deeper understanding of our Quaker heritage and a more authentic life in the kingdom of God on Earth, radically inclusive of all who seek to live this life. It includes, among others, Friends from the politically liberal end of the evangelical branch, the Christian end of the unprogrammed branch, and the more outgoing end of the conservative branch.

I have a leading to travel and gather Friends from different parts of Quakerism for communal meals, conversation and worship. I will continue to write about these experiences for publication in various Friendly media. [Including this blog.] I will continue a program of reading about Quaker history and practice, to understand how this leading of mine fits into the wider arc of the Religious Society of Friends. I will continue to report back to my monthly meeting and seek discernment, support and guidance for this work.

On Sunday, my clearness committee reported to the meeting for business of San Francisco Monthly Meeting. They reported that they were in unity to affirm and encourage me in pursuing this leading and that they found my leading to be powerfully Spirit-led. The ministry and oversight committee will appoint an anchor committee to work with me to consider specific opportunities and request any support I may need to follow this leading.

In the meantime, a few other things happened. An article got published, an invitation to speak at a conference came in, and a previous obligation turned out to be more interesting than I expected. My Friend Liz Opp reminded me last week that when we are faithful a little bit, we are often given opportunities to be more faithful. Caroline Fox once heard in meeting for worship, “Live up to the Light thou hast, and more will be granted thee.” My own heart says that yes, there will be trials and tribulations, but this joy I feel now is consolation to my soul.

More on all this very soon. Click here for the next post, Writing about Convergent Friends

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Blogger Gregg Koskela said...

I'm surprised at how moved I am by this post.

It's seemed so clear all along that this is how God has been moving in you. But to see it all so beautifully told, to realize this is the end of the beginning part of your journey and the beginning of a new phase, I'm so excited for you and for us.

I have been praying with you, and will continue. I'm glad that your meeting is being supportive and helping you move forward. I look forward to what God brings to us all through you. Blessings!!

1/15/2007 1:44 PM  
Blogger Chris M. said...

I'm grateful to be sharing this journey with you (even if I did miss said business meeting to take Older and Younger Sons home on the MUNI). Speaking for myself, I'm also tremendously moved by supportive comments like Gregg's.

-- Chris M.

1/15/2007 4:54 PM  
Blogger Liz Opp said...

I can't help but think about earlier days when our faith communities were smaller and more tightly knit, about how the stories of our struggle to be faithful and the sharing of experiences of how we humbled ourselves to understand where God was leading us became the way that we learned from one another what it meant to test our leadings; what it meant to be obedient; what it meant to know the fruits of the Spirit.

And centuries later, in our global economy and with our interplanetary travel, with our societies fragmented by poverty, discrimination, corruption, and war, here we still find ourselves sharing our stories of struggle, faithfulness, and fruitfulness, knitting ourselves back together, into one tapestry, one family, one body.

How cool is that?!?

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

1/15/2007 7:22 PM  
Blogger RichardM said...

Here is another piece of our Quaker tradition to consider. In the past when individual Friends had a strong leading that concerned not just themselves but the whole Society they first took it to their monthly meeting for clearness as you did. When clear the next step usually involved traveling in the ministry to share this message with Friends face to face. John Woolman made the slow trek from meeting to meeting from New Jersey down to the Carolinas. Be on the lookout for a inner urge to travel and for Way opening to help you do so.

1/16/2007 9:34 AM  
Blogger quakerboy said...


Any time you have a leading to visit the East Coast, know you are always welcome in our home. Lots of room and would love to show you around the stomping grounds of NC Quakerism.

God's peace, my sister,
Friendship MM
Greensboro, NC

1/16/2007 9:53 AM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Gregg, Chris and Liz,
Thank you to three of the most influential people in my journey of the last two years.

Richard, funny you should mention this. I'll be writing more about my spiritual itinerary (thanks to Chris M. for this phrase) over the next week or so.

Craig, all I can say is not yet. Not this spring, anyway. But the nudge is in me to visit Greensboro. I watched the film "Can We ALL Be Friends?" over the holidays about the four branches in North Carolina. Very interesting. And more so because of some other connections that are happening this spring.

1/16/2007 12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading your post gave me an incredible feeling of joy! Your enthusiasm is contagious! What you wrote about is something I had always hoped would come to pass!
I would love it if you could write an article about your experiences for Friends Journal--which I have a subscription to. More people need to know about this awakening! I will hold you in the Light as you continue on your sojourn. :-)

1/16/2007 6:09 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your kind words. It's always a pleasure to bring someone else joy.

I'm just not sure if you're joking or not. If you have a subscription to Friends Journal, you may have already read the article I wrote in last October's issue. In any case, check back tomorrow for more about that article.

1/16/2007 11:05 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

O lovely.

I can't wait to see you in my corner of the Quakersphere.

1/16/2007 11:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No I was not joking but now I feel rather embarrassed since I did read the October issue of Friends Journal--which I thought was one of their best ever.
So I am sure that I read your article since I read it cover to cover. I just don't remember which article it was. Sorry. :-(

1/17/2007 12:37 AM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Anonymous, I'm sorry if I've embarrassed you. There were so many good articles there that it doesn't surprise me at all that folks don't exactly remember mine. It's called A Convergence of Friends, p. 18.

It would be wonderful if you could sign your comments with a name, even a pseudonym if necessary, so that I could know when you write again!
Thy friend,

Amanda, I am really looking forward to coming to Boston this spring. I hope to meet you in person then!

1/17/2007 1:11 AM  
Blogger Richard58 said...

I remember reading "A convergence of Friends" and thought it was a wonderful article. (I am the one who was signing on as "Anonymous" by the way.) I hope that you write more articles for Friends Journal in the near future.

1/17/2007 11:40 PM  
Blogger quakerboy said...


You write about the 4 branches of Quakerism represented in NC. As of yesterday, I have discovered that there are actually 5.

There is a little known holiness Quaker group that has a Meeting in Jamesville, NC connected with the Central Yearly Meeting. Interestingly, they are very close to the location where George Fox ministered among North Carolina Friends. Still doing some research and wondering if there is a direct connection between them and those convinced by Fox.

The Yearly Meeting website is here: http://www.centralyearlymeetingoffriends.org

Oh, and the invitation to visit Greensboro is ongoing. If and when the Spirit so leads, you are welcome.


1/18/2007 8:47 AM  
Blogger cubbie said...

this is very exciting. and it's interesting to be excited and also aware that i don't really even know a whole lot about what i am really excited about.

after reading this post, i had a dream that i ate dinner at your house. which is not trying to finnagle an invite, but it was a really great dream. all four of you were there and it wasn't the kind of dream where suddenly there were monkeys on your heads and henry was speaking norwegian... but the kind of dream where everybody was being just like them, and it was nice and full of love.

1/18/2007 1:40 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Ooh, someday, I want to dream about my children speaking different languages. And not just "Teenager."

Craig - just you wait. I really appreciate the offer.

1/19/2007 2:08 AM  

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