Yesterday was a *very* stressful day for me. So much to do, gorgeous weather now but you know winter will be here soon, lots of competing demands and desires and commitments and claims on "my" time.
Feeling desperate, I cast about for what to do to re-center, get some perspective, find relief.
I picked up the schedule for the WV Friends Gathering, scheduled for this weekend, and glanced through, picturing what the Gathering would be like, trying to see myself settling in and renewing friendships and sense of spiritual community.
Pretty quickly I was drawn to the Queries listed for Saturday afternoon Worship Sharing. I've always loved Queries, a little bit of Quaker process that enacts Scripture, a word from God articulated by and for upbuilding of Friends and community.
I only got to the first Query, which spoke to my condition so loudly I just stopped and thought and prayed and waited for divine guidance:
"What gives me strength in times of stress?"
The rest of the day, while running errands and working on the vehicles and eating lunch and watching Gunsmoke on TV and taking my nap and everything else, the whole rest of the day, I sat with this question and enacted my experience of that which gives me strength in times of stress.
The obvious answer, in a word, is God. I cry out help me help me help me, and God gives me strength, or if not strength than at least enough strength to keep crying out help me help me help me.
But when a question starts off with "what" and expects a noun as the answer, there is always a process, an experience involved.
How do I seek strength in times of stress?
What happens when I find strength in times of stress?
How does God give me strength in time of stress?
What came to me yesterday, and continues to play out today, is that in stress as in all other times, God is calling me back to Center, to God, to that which is central and key.
Practically, this means rediscovering and renewing my commitment to whatever is centrally important in the mess of confusion and botheration. Often it means letting go of things I thought I'd do, in order to do more central things. So often my cup is so overflowing I can't even take a sip. Often it means letting go of believing I have to control outcomes; all I have to do is my own next step, if I even have a next step in a particular situation.
Long story short, I got clear that I need to cancel out of a couple of appointments and things I'd signed up for, some ongoing commitments from which I need to take a break. I need to focus on the few things I'm sure God wants me working on this month. I need to focus on what's happening right in front of me, right now, rather than fretting about the many things that are not happening right now, that I might or might not even be called to at all.
Today is much better, in the stress department. I felt led to write this blog entry, and I'm working on the very short list of projects / tasks that the Lord showed me are central, right now this week, this month. I remember how stressed I felt yesterday, but it's more like a memory of having been ill than the illness itself.
Thank you, West Virginia Friends, for these fine Queries, one of which opened me up to the strength I needed in my time of stress yesterday! Grace and peace to all of you attending the Gathering this weekend!