The next Seekers Group Meeting will be on Monday, August 31, 2015 at 7pm in the Community House at Westport Meeting. Our topic, which came out of the last discussion, will be Forgiveness and Healing.
Two Readings that may be helpful in starting our conversation are:
- A chapter from Anne Lamott’s book Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, (Random House, 2000), pgs. 128 – 137);
- Some Thoughts on Forgiving, by Mariellen Gilpin on Quaker Arts Online (Issue #1, Summer 1998). You can find this at http://www.quaker.org/fqa/fager/gilpin.html
Hope that many of you can join us!
Gretchen Baker-Smith, convener
Our next Seekers Group gathering will be on Monday, July 6, 2015 at 7pm in the Community House. Our topic will be Where We Find the Light in Nature. Instead of a reading, your “preparation” for this conversation is to spend a little time between now and then in Nature….preferably in one of those spots where you personally are most often connected to the divine. Come and share a reflection or description of how personally special spots in nature connect you to that of God. Poems, short bits of writing, etc, are also welcome — just know that sharing your own experience is the gift you give to the rest of us.
All are welcome to join us!
The next meeting of the Seekers Group will be on Monday, July 6, 2015 at 7pm in the Community House. Our conversation will be on sharing our personal spiritual experiences/connections/sacred places in nature. Readings will “unfold” soon!
Our next gathering will be on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 7pm in the Community House. Our topic will be Discerning and Remaining Faithful to Our Life’s Work. We have selected 2 readings to consider: Chapter 7 from Barbara Brown Taylor’s book An Altar in the World and Chapter 9 of Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. Hard copies are available in the foyer of the Meeting House; digital copies can be obtained from Gretchen.
Here is what Randy wrote after the March 2, 2015 Meeting:
“The Seeker’s Group met in joyful fellowship this evening. After some expectant silence we explored the phrase ” [blank] is my plumb-line to God”. Many expressed some difficulty with this phrase as we grapple with the very understanding of God and therefore a difficulty in how to approach God. Some have left traditional understandings from childhood behind and some are still searching. Several admitted that while our understanding of God is not explainable, it is definitely experiential and are comfortable resting in that inexpressible experience. A poem by Mary Oliver was shared that touched upon living in the light of this inexpressible feeling. We then focused on the plumb-line being the way we can be open to experiencing the divine in life and how we can direct our lives to be as fulfilling and fruitful as possible. We felt a leading in continuing for our next meeting with the topic of how we can discern our “life’s work” and how we can engage in this with societal pressures pulling us in other directions.” – R.W.
Linda had the following 2 quotes arrive in her IN BOX the next morning and said they really resonated so much with the discussion. So we’re sharing them, too.
Assessing, judging, and comparing are egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate. If you just turn your attention to awareness, if you notice getherenow with this, the insights will drop in and inform you of what is so. Don’t try to figure anything out!
The mind that is the prisoner of conventional ideas, and the will that is the captive of its own desire, cannot accept the seeds of an unfamiliar truth and a supernatural desire…. I must learn therefore to let go of the familiar and the usual and consent to what is new and unknown to me. I must learn to ‘leave myself’ in order to find myself by yielding to the love of God.
We hope many will be able to join us at the April 16th meeting! All are welcome!
Thanks again to everyone who was able to help with our recent Meeting Cleanup Day on March 8! We got a lot of work done, and I loved the support and involvement of Friends. Thus far the re-arrangement of clean chairs and supplies on the shelves in the room off the stage has worked – I’m not moving nearly as much in there on a daily basis! The new shelving in the basement is great. Many people have commented on the spiffed up bulletin boards and clean refrigerator.
A list of chores still needed attention can be viewed by clicking the link below.
(Note: This meeting was postponed to March 2, 2015, due to severe weather.)
The next gathering of Westport Meeting’s Seekers Group will be on Monday, February 2, 2015 at 7pm in the Community House. Our topic will be “What is your plumb-line to God?” I have attached two readings to get your juices flowing. One is a wonderful piece by a Chicago pastor named Trey Hall (permission granted) who shared wisdom he learned while taking a language class. You can read it HERE.
We encourage all who come to consider bringing a bit of writing, art, music, etc that serves as a plumb line to the Holy. No pressure – but it’d be a joy to share such things with each other! Below is an excerpt from Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic that one Friend in our group considers a plumb-line for him. Perhaps it helps you find yours:
When I pray, I am not praying to a philosophically complicated absentee creator. When I manage to pay attention to the continual love song, I am not trying to envisage the impossible-to-imagine domain beyond the universe. I do not picture kings, thrones, crystal pavements, or any of the possible cosmological updatings of these things. I look across, not up; I look into the world, not away. When I pray I see a face, a human face among other human faces. It is a face in an angry crowd, a crowd engorged by the confidence that it is doing the right thing, that it is being virtuous. The man in the middle of the crowd does not look virtuous. He looks tired and frightened and battered by the passions around him. But he is the crowd’s focus and center. The center of everything, in fact, because if you are a Christian you do not believe that the characteristic action of the God of everything is to mold the course of the universe powerfully from afar. For a Christian, the most essential thing God does in time, in all of human history, is to be the man in the crowd; a man under arrest, and on his way to our common catastrophe.
Quotes on the topic, “What is your plumb-line to God?”
The Seekers Group is a circle of Ffriends who gather for worship, conversation, mutual spiritual nurturing, and tea. All are welcome to join us!
Gretchen Baker-Smith, convener
Last night I was reminded of the importance of Fellowship in Faith, Love, and Spirit. My meeting hosts a “Seekers” group every month, a group I have been blessed to be a part of for the past year. A topic is chosen each month and selected readings are emailed to all who might attend, as well as those who have indicated that although they cannot attend, they would like to participate through the readings each month. We join together in Worship, Sharing, Confession, Faith, Love, and Laughter. Our gatherings always serve as a reminder of how God’s Presence grows stronger with every soul that joins our circle, whether they be strong in Faith that night or not, for even in those times when we feel distant from God, God is never distant from us, and The Spirit within can be felt by those around us even when we ourselves are unaware of its presence.
Our discussion last night centered around patience and happenstance. We shared our struggles and our difficulties in the practice of patience and being present. Amazingly, the more we discussed our failures and the more we shared with one another our moments of weakness, the more the presence of God seemed to illuminate the space in which we sat and the stronger The Spirit became amongst us. A warm sense of comfort began to come over me and I felt held, safe, and trusting. I wonder, without the honest and Faithful Fellowship of Friends, would any of this be possible? And, if it were possible, how much more difficult and trying would it be to achieve on one’s own? I am so very thankful for this circle of Friends. I consider its existence and place in my life to be both a blessing and a miracle.
When we share openly and honestly with one another in Faith, we enter into what I feel is a living embodiment of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Jesus broke bread and asked his disciples to share it amongst themselves in remembrance of Him. In regard to Fellowship, it is our words, our stories, our struggles, our confessions, our loss, our love, and our light that are the pieces of bread we share with each other. Even our very presence and Faithful listening become forms of sharing. The eye contact we make with another from across a room can be just as powerful as the thoughts and feelings we share.
Living a life of Faith can be the loneliest of endeavors. At times, it can feel like the weight of the whole world is on our shoulders. We ask ourselves, “If God is real, and He lies within, then why do I feel so alone?” I’ve asked myself this question on many occasions. I’m not totally sure of the answer. However, the most basic conclusion I can come to, is that the Children of God were never meant to walk alone. From the very beginning, human beings were social creatures. It is written in our genetic code to work together, to interact with each other, and to live together. Even more, we are meant to love together, to hurt together, to struggle together, and to have Faith together.
Fellowship amongst ourselves is so very important to our Spiritual, emotional, and psychological well-being. I am blessed to be a part of such a loving Faith community, and more specifically, to be a part of an even smaller circle of Seekers, who share so openly and honestly with me in Faith, love, and understanding.
By Eric Palmieri, Westport Friends Meeting
Our Seekers Group conversation on December 1, 2014, centered on many aspects of Patience.
We agreed that being able to be present in the moment lessens our impatience, as our mind is taken off of what we wish to control and put simply on what is now.
It does seem that a degree of patience often comes with age. Many Friends talked about how they have learned to let go and let God more than when they were younger. A couple of attenders spoke about the sheer joy of leaving space in their days to truly follow the impromptu leadings of the Spirit.
Holding onto our true self instead of letting anger or ego take over in stressful or potentially dangerous situations is particularly difficult. It would be easier if we could be guaranteed that all would be well in the end – and if “well” was what we defined it to be. A bread baker can be cheerful and patient with dough that takes 3 days if they know the process and trust the outcome to be a warm loaf from the oven.
We considered whether thinking about very trying times in life as opportunities to practice being patient helped us be more present and less combative through such journeys.
Many of us were intrigued by the wisdom in one of the readings instructing us in times of difficulties to stay close to our supplies. What are our supplies? For many of us, the Light Within is an essential one – which explains why going through a time where one feels particularly distant from God is profoundly painful. In times of despair, we sometimes have experienced moments of grace when reassurance, a teacher, or an open door have appeared to help us through. We are deeply grateful for the supplies we find, including each other.
Our next meeting, to which all are welcome, will be on Monday, January 5, 2015. Our topic will be Being Present. Suggested readings will be available soon.
Gretchen Baker-Smith, convener
Our next meeting will be Monday, December 1, 2014 at 7pm. Our topic will be Patience and Happenstance. Please follow the link on Patience that includes two readings that Randy found for us as well as a page of quotes that I gathered for this weekend’s JYM Retreat that actually resonate with our themes, too.
All are welcome to join us!