“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46: 10)
In Barclay’s Apology in Modern English the eleventh proposition concerns worship and is entitled Expectant Waiting. It is aptly named in that unprogrammed worship is all about “waiting upon the Lord.” When I consider what this means it has often occurred to me that “waiting” has at least two definitions. One type of waiting in the sense of being patient, listening to the Inward Guide in this case. The other type of waiting is an active verb, concerned with giving service to God and other people. It seems to me that both are essential to the Quaker experience of worship. We are Called upon to both quietly listen for God’s voice and to go forth in the world and live the kingdom of God.
Since moving to the islands one of the biggest adjustments for me has been getting used to how things are done on the Big Island with regards to Meeting. I won’t belabor a point already made in other postings, but it has never been satisfactory for me to settle for dysfunction when I know we could be doing so much better. In trying to explain to new people or visitors how Friends operate here I usually say, “It’s complicated.” and leave it at that. One has to live here and participate in the process, such as it is, to truly understand. Herein is perhaps a third sense of the term “expectant waiting.” Expectations, in my experience, turn out to be a mixed blessing. When I expect to be filled by the Spirit I am frequently humbled and blessed. When I approach a situation with unrealistic expectations however I’m frequently disappointed.
So the question becomes how can I let go of expectations about others while still upholding a standard? This is where letting go and letting God comes in. I suspect we all secretly want to tell God how to run things. I’m certainly guilty of this, but S/He seldom listens to my advice. When I can let go of whatever expectation is preventing a connection with the Divine though I often transcend the disappointment and even (on my best of days anyway) come to acceptance.
Recently I have come to the realization that I can’t change Friends on the island or their casual view of Good Order. I have to turn that over to God and stop engaging in unproductive struggles. The result of this surrender has been an Opening I have prayed for long and hard. For some time now I have hoped that regular worship would once again resume on this side of the Big Island, but there appeared to be no way forward. One evening it came to me that there is a way forward for Friends. I mentioned in my last posting that a three part proposal might help us. That being to form an independent Worship Group, to advertise when finances allow, and to rent an indoor facility. By independent Worship Group I do not see us being under the care of Big Island Monthly Meeting (or even Honolulu Meeting) for now at least. This allows us to move forward without having to seek permission. To advertise might be very low key at this point but it about being willing to share our Light with others. An indoor rented facility is essential for this side of the island because of all the rain we get. A rental space is less of an imposition on a host. Also, visitors are generally more willing to attend in a public space, as opposed to a home.
I am pleased to report that this Leading seems to be testing as true. Three months ago my partner and I invited Friends from this side of the island to our home to join us in worship (and a potluck of course) to discern whether or not we could form a Worship Group. The response was more than I could have hoped for. About ten Friends showed up and they are eager to make this happen. We met once more after that at our home in Keaau and discussed possibilities for a rental space in the area. One of those places has welcomed us with open arms and it seems to be working out well for all concerned. We held our first worship session there on the August 28 and have reserved the space for the next four months.
We decided to start off cautiously (as Friends tend to do) by meeting once a month on the 4th Sunday for a few months and later consider how we might meet more frequently. Once a month may not seem like much to Friends on the mainland, but here is it definite progress. The rent is very affordable (only $10 per hour). Friends have also been very generous with their donations, allowing us to reserve the space well in advance. Our rent supports the Neighborhood Place of Puna (also known locally as the Girl Scout Building). They are a community service organization dedicated to helping abused children and their families.
No name is perfect, but at least for now we have decided to refer to ourselves as the Keaau Friends (Quaker) Worship Group. The title allows us to be connected to the community of Keaau where we rent space and lends support to the organization which has invited us to share their space on Sundays. If our name seems inadequate to some, I remind Friends that over the centuries there have been a wide variety of names used by Quaker Meetings. Most names are descriptive of the area where they reside and some are even amusing. In the over the forty years I have been a Friend I have been a member of two meetings in California whose names are connected to fruit production; those Meetings being Orange Grove Meeting in Pasadena and Apple Seed Meeting in Sebastopol. When the Orange Grove Meetinghouse was built in about 1905 the Meeting was surrounded by orange groves. Apple Seed Meeting is still found in apple growing country and their name is also a tribute to the Seed of God found in everyone.
As we wait expectantly on where God is Leading us, please hold us in prayer. Friends and visitors are welcome to join in worship with us on the 4th First Day at 10:00 AM, with a potluck lunch to follow. We welcome visitors. Contact me for directions.