To Cultivate Is to Cherish
by Ty Griese
“How I do love these Quakers!”
I love finding out more about them, both early in our history and in the present day, the world over. Having read and continuing to read widely in spiritual literature, including works by Quaker authors, I bring insights and perspectives that I’ve harvested to meeting. I bring learnings from Eastern spirituality and techniques, as well as writings of our human mystics. The bite-sized Pendle Hill pamphlets have always appealed to me, along with their wide and deep range. I endeavour also to listen to our other-than-human community members. (Spirit speaks always, and everywhere.) I try to apply Martin Buber’s “all real living is meeting” to our widest community. Still, I have the longest way to go.
Our meeting has not done much worship sharing of late, though we certainly should, as being “real living” it excels at knitting the community together! I had the honor to be part of a Quaker support group requested by one of our members a couple of years ago, though we called it a Clearness Committee. One of its (meaning the committee members and certainly our focus Friend) gifts to me was an opportunity to listen wholly and purely—ideally without focusing on fixing them. Not unexpectedly, I need to do more of that to be of better service. It certainly need not wait on another formal invitation to participate.
Within the past year, I have begun a daily prayer or “holding” practice—another way of rippling out in to the rest of the life of me the way of a Friend. Certainly I am not what I would call “good at it,” but it does “get me out more.”
Our meeting encourages sharing of our Quaker gifts in many areas, certainly in Witness activities such as educating and assisting in our communities about solitary confinement, denuclearization, gun violence, world hunger, and sustainable living. Our Children’s Meeting, though currently quite small in numbers, prepares big salads each month for a local homeless shelter. Also each month, for our taller friends, we have a Friendly Forum and on another First Day, Adult Religious Education. Our clerk has contributed this past year to Spark on outreach from our meeting, but he may not have mentioned that he has made a stack of “QuakerSpeak” videos (“What to Expect in Quaker Meeting for Worship”) available to newcomers and old timers alike.
We have been blessed of late with an almost steady trickle of newcomers, some due to our Facebook page, some drive-bys, and some the fruit of Friends being ever at the ready to talk to anyone about what they love! Several to many have returned, some attending business meeting, some our bountiful potluck. A couple of our returning new attenders are now on our Physical Stewardship Committee. Though severely allergic to fragrances, one dedicated attender has hung in there, often entering the meeting room late pending a migraine brought on by fragrances, though the meeting is “fragrance-free.” Aaron has himself brought along a few new attenders in turn. One couple has served hospitality and offered to watch the children during the summer when Children’s Meeting is not in session. We have asked them to attend the new NYYM Young Adult Friends Series.
Wilton received one new attender stemming from informal conversation in a YMCA locker room. (At least one other, a younger adult, is a work in progress.) If anyone reading this hesitates to seize the day when presented with an opportunity to talk Quakers, I would like to speak with thee, soon!