Going to meeting for worship anyway

In the Advices in PYM's book of Faith and Practice, it says, "Come regularly to meeting for worship, even when you are angry, tired or spiritually cold." This is good advice for me, because for the last several months, I have been generally two out of the three on any given Sunday morning. Not so much angry, but just indifferent.

Some weeks I was also sick, or one of my kids was sick, so we did stay home. No where in F&P does it say "Go to meeting even when you are sick." Really, it ought to say, "STAY HOME when you are sick. No one wants to listen to you coughing or shake your hand or breathe your germs." But this is a tangent.

Most weeks I manage to overcome the inertia of my cozy fleece bathrobe and the steady supply of hot beverages and toast that can be found in my own home in order to go to meeting for worship. Why? Not because of the inherent charms of our meetinghouse, which is usually too cold for comfort. Not because I feel enticed by the fellowship of Friends, or because I feel obligated to participate in the life of my meeting.

Lately, I go to meeting because the rest of my family is going. Everybody else is getting dressed and brushing their teeth and getting in the car, so I do too.

And honestly, once I'm there, I'm fine. I find peace and strength and new insights and connections to the Holy Spirit in meeting for worship. I talk to people; I'm friendly to newcomers; I hold babies while their parents eat lunch. You know, the normal community stuff.

But left to my own devices, I'm not so sure I would go. I'm sure I wouldn't have gone this morning. This is really a shift for me. Until recently, I would have said I always want to go to meeting for worship. A few years ago, I wrote a blog post that said exactly that.

Last week, the main insight I had in worship was that all the things that are hard for me right now are fodder for the journey. Learning these lessons IS the point of my life right now.

This week, my main insight was to understand how other people could feel like not going to worship. At least, not to be snotty about it.

And also to acknowledge that sometimes my family is a positive factor in my spiritual progress. Usually I complain that parenting slows me down, gets in the way of the ministry I really want to do. But today I recognized that the discipline I am developing as a parent is good for my spiritual life too.

Thank you God for the many blessings in my life. Even when I am blind to them.

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Blogger Morgan said...

Thank you, Robin.

1/11/2010 1:36 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Thanks. I need this reminder.


1/11/2010 4:28 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

There are times when I go to MfW because I want to, and once it rises, I think, "What was that? Why am I here? That was (insert any or all of the following)

Then there are other times when I go to MfW but don't want to and I think, "Over already? No! That was great! This is why I am a Friend! Why doesn't the whole world know about this!!!"

Most of the time, however, I'm somewhere in between the two extremes.

For me, being a part of the community means I should go and hold up my end of the bargain, that when the community needs me to help create a worshipful space in the world, I can be counted on.

Often I want to remind the spirit, "Hey, I'm here! Don't forget about me!! Wash over me whenever you feel like it 'cause I'm ready and waiting." Often I want to be reminded by the spirit, ""Hey, I'm here! Don't forget about me!! I'm waiting to wash over you whenever you feel like it 'cause I'm ready and waiting and waiting."

After almost 7 years at this meeting, I am sure I love my meeting very much.

1/11/2010 4:57 PM  
Blogger naturalmom said...

Thanks for such an honest post, Robin. I hope your "dry spell" lasts only as long as you need it to. Good for you for taking what lessons you can from this time.

1/11/2010 11:16 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

You're welcome everybody. I figure I write often enough about the exciting things that happen to me that I ought to admit it when things are just dull for a while.

1/11/2010 11:45 PM  
Blogger Linda J Wilk said...

Thank you Robin, for posting this. I'd just read the same advice this week, in preparation for a Seekers' group of new attenders at our meeting, and had a discussion with a long-time attender about the hassle of getting to meeting when one has to prepare toddlers and ones' self.

I'm grateful for this reminder that there is one who can speak to all of our condition, and that it is much easier to hear in corporate worship!

Blessings, Linda

1/15/2010 12:30 AM  
Blogger nemo said...

Robin reminds me that it's been 25 years since I've attended First-day worship with a family member. Maybe that's why I attend so infrequently...

1/16/2010 11:15 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Nemo, perhaps there is someone else who would benefit from a ride to meeting, or a companion on transit? That can serve as a motivation to go.

Linda, yes, it can be a hassle, and as Jeff mentioned, it's not always fantastic when you get there, but I find that my experience is more fruitful when I attend regularly than when I go sporadically.

1/16/2010 11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I regret to say I follow that advice rather poorly. I will have to prayerfully consider it... even though, up to now I've only read the harsher "forsaking meeting" version.

1/19/2010 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you to Nancy James for linking to this blog in the February 2010 edition of the Pittsburgh Friends Meeting Newsletter. http://www.quaker.org/pghpamm/

1/22/2010 9:28 PM  

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