Putting Down Roots


attention (or, Lindsay explains a bit more about Quakers)
September 9, 2011, 3:11 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I don’t remember exactly when it started with us, or how. What I do know is that it’s something that Nora and I both got from the Quakers. A normal worship time on a Sunday is called “meeting for worship”; once a month, Quaker meetings will generally break for snacks or soup and then reconvene for a “meeting for worship with attention to business,” where they bring up different items relating to the business of the group. There’s generally an agenda and committee reports and proposals, but the whole thing is conducted in a spirit of reverance and listening: this work is thought of as worship, too. When Quakers get married, it’s called “meeting for worship with attention to marriage,” the idea being that the wedding guests are worship and listening and waiting to be guided by the Spirit, just like the couple is.

The Quaker spiritual life is organized around listening for God (or the Light or the Spirit or Christ or whatever word someone uses), which isn’t something that’s confined to one hour on Sundays. The point is to always be listening, to always be paying attention.

And so, we started organizing our lives around meetings for worship: meeting for worship with attention to the caterpillars on the sidewalk, meeting for worship with attention to potentially friendly commuters on the train, meeting for worship with attention to piles of warm laundry needing folding, meeting for worship with attention to love notes hidden in jars of popcorn.

My days lately are wildly unstructured, and full of waiting, and brimming with all sorts of unexpected things. I’m trying to stay awake to all of it, to frame it all as worship instead of framing it as disorder. And so, the past few days, I’ve had meeting for worship with attention to warm soup, meeting for worship with attention to friends I didn’t think I’d ever see again, meeting for worship with attention to the nine million people in New York City, meeting for worship with attention to the crickets and a whole bed to myself.

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