At our most recent Seekers Group (Sept. 29, 2014), we talked about Fear. Some of us talked about how fear keeps us from living as fully and adventurously as we wish we would. For many of us fear gets in the way of us being ourselves, though this lessens as we age. Fear of the unknown, of our own vulnerability, of not being in control (but then again, are we ever?), of being less than perfect, of death, and of what the Divine might ask of us if we truly listened, are experiences to which we can all relate. We loved the idea of letting ourselves be spiritual 5 year olds, where we might live and act more spontaneously, without a lot of manipulation, rationalization, or head trips. We are grateful to be able to laugh about very imperfect endings to our attempts to be more than we fear we are! We liked the idea of embracing imperfection – in our artwork and our home repairs, as well as in ourselves, though for some of us this was a challenging idea. We ended agreeing that a quote from Lyman Randall about “accepting <our> fears as a natural part of living instead of trying to eliminate them by being perfectly courageous all the time” was a comforting and wise insight. Our next meeting will be Monday, October 27, 2014 at 7pm in the Community House. Our topic will be Gratitude. Stay tuned for suggested readings. All are welcome to join us. - Gretchen Baker-Smith
The next meeting of our Seekers Group will be on Thursday, June 26 at 7pm in the Community House. We decided to share (as best, and imperfectly as we can) our personal mystical experiences. The reading is the first section of chapter 3 of Marcus Borg’s book Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most (Harper One, 2014). (Thanks to Randy for finding this!) Copies are available in the foyer of the Meeting House or from Gretchen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
At the last gathering, we began by talking about how we try to live out our faith on a day to day basis. We listened to each other try to describe what one’s faith is — and what it means to have a faith to live out. We talked a lot about self forgiveness, patience, and trying to mindfully remain centered throughout the day, whether by times of quiet, by short readings, by whispered mantras, or by just taking 3 intentional breaths before answering the phone. We are inspired in different ways, and we agreed it is most important to be open to receiving these moments however they come. We decided we are ready to share descriptions of some of our mystical moments – big or small – with each other.
Our group has become such a source of joy and fellowship for those of us who attend. We yearn for more Westport Friends to join us in these conversations, however they are able. We are willing to have Friends email one or all of us their reflections about the readings to share with the group. We feel a life and spirit amongst us that feeds us between meetings. We also share great food. At this last meeting, we had wonderful spinach balls and a variety of pastries.
We would love to have more Friends join our gatherings. All are very welcome!
We need your help. This year we are experiencing fewer books being donated for our annul Book Fair which will be held on July 12, 2014. The link below will display a flyer with details on donating books. And, you can also help us by printing out a few copies of the flyer and passing them out to others who might consider donating books, too. Please click on the link below. Thanks!
Please note that we have changed the date of the next gathering of Westport Meeting’s Seekers’ Group. It will be on TUESDAY, April 29 at 7 pm in the Community House.
A description of last month’s meeting can be found in the post previous to this one by scrolling down.
Although I previously announced that the topic for April was Conflict Resolution, as I’ve listened and corresponded with Friends, I think it would be more accurately called “Dealing with Conflict in our Daily Lives.” As always, though, we never know just where the conversation and the Spirit will take us! Any and all are very welcome to join us.
We have 2 readings that we will be using in our conversation.
The first is a reflection written by Margaret Hope Bacon called Remembering Agnes. http://www.fwccamericas.org/publications/wqf/2008_summer/Agnes/wqf_Agnes_PrinterSpreads.pdf
The second is a section from the 7th chapter of Thich Nhat Hanh’s book Healing the Inner Child (Parallax Press, 2010). Please be in touch with Gretchen for a copy of this.
The next Seeker’s Group meeting is on Wednesday, April 30 at 7 pm in the Community House.
At our most recent gathering, we talked about unconditional love and forgiveness. We shared some experiences of forgiveness and agreed it is a complicated, un-linear process – and part of our human experience. Being in relationship invites us into an ever-deepening vulnerability, where we will be hurt – and will hurt others – at times. Honestly admitting our hurt, rather than brushing it off as ‘nothing’, provides opportunity for true healing by both parties. But this is scary for many of us to do, especially with those in our inner circles at home, work, and Meeting. Humility seems to be a necessary quality (and gift).
We sincerely marveled at those who can reach forgiveness when they have been deeply and tragically hurt by another. We honestly shared our own heart-wisdom, as well as the teachings of Jesus and others, around seeing that of God in every person. This led to some personal stories about moments in our daily lives when we have been able to connect with individuals whom we and others have found challenging. Compassion is so powerful; transformation often happens when another feels simply heard.
How can we, as Friends, take love and forgiveness, compassion and humility, onto a more national level? How can we as individuals more fully live it in our daily lives? We decided that we want to explore aspects of conflict resolution at our next meeting, perhaps learning some specific techniques or steps, thinking that it might provide some tools for more fully living out our faith in our daily lives. Stay tuned for more information and suggested readings for this next discussion – to which all are most sincerely welcome!
Hello Dear Friends,
The next Seeker’s Group meeting is on THURSDAY, March 27 at 7pm in the Community House.
At February’s meeting, we talked about our personal understanding and connection to Jesus, Christianity, and our early religious experiences in other faith traditions. We also shared knowledge and questions about ‘the historical Jesus’ and the writings of the Gospels, and we touched on Friends’ understanding of continuing revelation. Most wonderfully, we had a young man knock on the door in the middle of it all, asking if Hope lived there. (True story!) We laughed with joy at the hope and fellowship that most definitely is in our circle, even if the young woman he was looking for wasn’t physically with us.
We ended our conversation on the challenges of loving those who are hard to love and those who don’t love us – whether they are individuals or large groups of people. We agreed that we struggle to attain the love that Jesus taught. And, we also struggle to forgive. We decided that our topic for this coming month would be unconditional love and forgiveness.
With the help of some NEYM Friends, I have found several short readings. Please email me if you would like copies of these. There will also be some copies available in the foyer of the Meeting House. I did put together a play list of 7 songs on love and forgiveness, since music is really part of my theology. See playlist HERE. Please bring other bits of writing and your own stories (and music titles) to our meeting.
Our conversations have been so rich, and the community amongst us is really sweet. I so hope many of you can join us.
Note! There has been a request to consider changing our meeting day from the last Wednesday to the last Thursday of the month on a regular basis. Please let me know if this would work for you (or maybe even another Thursday).
All are welcome to join us!
The next Seekers Group Meeting is Weds. February 26, 2014 @ 7pm in the Community House.
At our January meeting, we had a wonderful conversation around vocal testimony in worship. We shared personal experiences of messages arising within and of trying to faithfully discern whether they are meant for us alone or to be spoken aloud. Some also honestly shared experiences – a few hours or days after speaking out of the silence – of clarity that the message we spoke was from us and not the Spirit. We agreed it can be spiritually painful when this happens but that we are all learning and striving to be faithful, and are always human – and sometimes make mistakes. We spoke about hearing beyond the spoken words of others, with compassion and mercy. Near the end of this fruitful discussion, a question arose regarding just where do these messages come from?
We agreed that our next conversation would begin here: What was early Friends’ understanding and experience of Christ, what is contemporary Friends’ spectrum of understanding and experience of Christ, and what is ours — personally?
Randy has provided a short reading from The Historical Dictionary of the Friends (Quakers), second edition, 2012, The Scarecrow Press, which offers a historical context of how Friends have grappled with the role of the Bible and Jesus in worship. Please be in touch with Gretchen if you would like a copy.
Friends might also find it helpful to look at chapter 26 of Britain Yearly Meeting’s Faith & Practice – particularly numbers 46-60 — for a broad range of contemporary connections to Jesus and Christ. The entire F&P is on line. Here’s the link to the chapter: http://qfp.quaker.org.uk/chapter/26/
The Seekers Group meets the last Wednesday of every month. All of us are seekers – all are welcome to join us. If you have questions or suggestions, please be in touch with Gretchen Baker-Smith, convener.
Hello dear Friends,