Seekers Group Summary 12.4.17

Hope is the bird that feels the light
and sings while the dawn is still dark.
– Rabindranorth Tagore

We are deeply troubled by many of the messages, decisions, and actions of our government and fellow citizens.  Some days, the intolerance, suspicion, and greed almost overwhelm us, and it is a challenge not to sink into despair.  Holding onto hope can be a spiritual discipline.  It seems vitally important to spend time with people who inspire us, whether by the specific work that they do or by the heart and integrity with which they live and breathe.  We are compelled to do something, whether through words, actions, prayers, or breath, that affirms our beliefs in justice, non-violence, peace, equality, and care for all of life.  Letting the Light we have experienced within us shine through is a faithful witness to what we as Friends have come to know of that of God in the stillness of worship together.  We appreciated the heart balm of this evening’s laughter, homemade cookies, and sweet oranges.  We are more grateful than ever for each other and for the hope that rises amongst us, helping us to continue to sing – and shine – despite the darkness.  

Our next gathering will be Monday, January 8, 2018 at 7pm in the Community House.  All are welcome to join us.

Much Love,

Gretchen

Next Seekers Group is Monday, Dec 7 at 7 PM

Our next Seekers Group conversation is on Monday, December 7, 2015 at 7pm in the Community House.  Our topic is “Sharing our spiritual journeys with significant people in our lives.”  Please bring your favorite story, querie, relevant struggle or wisdom – your own or that of someone else’s — to share with the group.  I’ve looked far and wide for “just the right readings” and have decided that all of us are the wisdom that we need going into this gathering.  I’m very much looking forward to our time together.  Hope you can join us.

Gretchen

 

Next Seekers Group Meeting July 6, 2015

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!

Gretchen

Next Seekers Group Meeting 4.16.2015

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!

Cheri Huber

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.

Thomas Merton

We hope many will be able to join us at the April 16th meeting!  All are welcome!

Gretchen Baker-Smith

Seekers Group Meeting Feb 2, 2015

(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

The Fellowship of Friends

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

From The Fellowship of Friends. Reposted with permission from The Daily Quaker, by Eric John

Seekers Group Summary Oct 2014

Our Seekers Group conversation on October 27, 2014 began on the theme of Gratitude.  We were struck by the thought that gratitude requires us to be in the present moment.  It often comes when we slow down and pay attention.  Various teachings and authors have been helpful to us in learning mindfulness, from Thomas Kelley (The Eternal Now), to Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat-Zinn, and Joan Chittister.   The word happiness is connected to happenstance, or happening.  Perhaps being “happy” involves us letting go of control or widening our vision.  When unexpected circumstances arise in our day-to-day lives – i.e., missing the train – what is needed in order to remain in that place of gratitude?  Trust or faith seems important.

Being happy, in a deeply centered and peaceful sense, is not connected to material comfort, though we often mistakenly think so.

We shared some tender personal stories of pain and suffering and our journeys toward acceptance, healing, and gratitude.  Many of us struggle with the idea that God is in charge of everything – including who has to go through pain or suffering.  We found a lot of commonality in how we find Love or God helpful in times of such pain or suffering, though.  We have all experienced loss, sometimes deeply, and though we wouldn’t choose the suffering, we have felt gratitude for the lessons, closure, or openings that have come through grieving.

We are deeply grateful for people in our lives – including those in this circle.

Our next meeting will be Monday, December 1, 2014 at 7pm.  Our topic will be Patience and Happenstance.  All are welcome to join us!

Gretchen Baker-Smith

Next Seekers Group Topic is Gratitude

Our next Seekers Group is set for Monday, October 27, 2014 at 7 pm in the Community House.  Our topic is Gratitude, which arose several times during last month’s conversation on Fear.  If you missed it, here is a link to Meeting’s website where I shared a short reflection on last month’s conversation:  http://www.westportfriendsmeeting.org/follow-up-reflection-on-the-topic-of-fear/committees
I’m including a link to  a collection of quotes that I gathered a couple of years ago for a junior high retreat with the theme Having Enough. I am really looking forward to where our conversation takes us! Additional resources are available in the foyer of the Meetinghouse.
We will have to spend a bit of time considering our facilitation of the potluck sponsored by M&C on Friday, November 7, 2014 so that those of us who have been part of Seekers Group can share a bit experientially with the wider Westport family.
I hope many of you can join us this coming Monday.  Whether you’ve come once or every month, you’re always welcome!  Our conversations are always so rich.
Gretchen Baker-Smith

Next Seeker’s Group Meeting is Sept 29, 2014

Hello, All,

The next Seekers Group meeting is next Monday, September 29, 2014 at 7pm in the Community House.  Our topic is Fear, particularly in how it impedes our spiritual journey and daily life.
Reading have been set out in the foyer of the meetinghouse that might help the topic bubble up within you.
There are usually refreshments.  Always there is a lot of wonderful fellowship, tender conversation, laughter, and lovely worship.
Hope many of you can join us!
love,
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