Friday, November 7, 2014

The West Virginia Gathering of Friends

Last weekend we were blessed to attend a gathering of West Virginia Quakers. It had a lasting impact on me in a variety of ways.
` First, it was energizing to be surrounded by people who are seekers that share a common set of values. Unprogrammed Quakers are a diverse group of people from a variety of religious backgrounds, but we all recognize the importance of the Inner Light. The lack of a dogma or strict creed was what attracted many of us to the Friends. When you see God as a Light within each person, you are able to respect their spiritual journey without judgment. And, you can draw inspiration and strength from their shared stories. We shared and were moved as each person reflected on their life experiences. We reflected on how we can move forward as individuals, and as a group, to enhance our spiritual journeys.
I am always impressed when I am with Friends on the level of concern and action shown for sustainability, and living a life that reflects those values. Quaker events always feature recycling, using resources that allow us to reduce waste, and conversations with individuals about how to be a better steward of the earth's resources. You see the people driving gas efficient cars, circulating petitions to help our politicians realize the importance of sustainability, and involvement in groups that promote these values. How can I not be inspired and motivated to do my part when surrounded by such examples?
It seems we all treasure the natural world, and draw a sense of connection with the Divine when we are surrounded by it. The Gathering was held at a beautiful state park, and that place, combined with the peace in our method of worship was rejuvenating. The silence and spoken messages in the shared Meeting for Worship were food for my soul.
The desire for social justice is another important witness for Quakers. As we listened to speakers talk about their work to help create a more just and humane world, I was moved and inspired by the amount of work that Quakers do on a personal, local, national, and international level to help bring the kingdom of God to the world. My heartfelt gratitude goes out to those who do this work. One attender commented to me that she felt inadequate in her own efforts when surrounded by such people. I reminded her that her many email messages to her friends about these very issues and other spiritual topics are just as important as the big efforts of activists. The world can be changed in many small ways and even big ways when we use the inspiration that God provides to each of us.
I would like to thank the Mid-Ohio Valley Friends Meeting for organizing such a wonderful experience.


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