Augusta Friends Worship group, located in the Central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, continues to provide a spiritual home to 19 attenders. Our worship is centered in the Friends’ practice of silent expectant waiting. Verbal ministry continues to be rare, but there are often deep-felt silences. For some, this lack of deep sharing does not provide the nourishing experience that they need or want. We are aware that we bring different streams of faith with us as we sit together and try to be open to whatever messages may find words.
We continue to explore what is required of us in this faith tradition. This can occur as we use our time after Meeting to share on a range of topics as way opens. We try to encourage sharing of what has happened in the silence as well as sharing joys and concerns as a way of keeping the tone of worship flowing. At times we are better at this than others but whatever sharing takes place is reflective of where we are as individuals on any given First Day.
Our challenge this year has been the addition of children to our group for the first time. We are joyful with the parents of our two youngest additions and feel the responsibility of integrating their needs with the group needs. At present, we have a spontaneous child care arrangement as some Friends go out with the children but know that we have spiritual needs to meet for both the children and parents and will be seeking ways to meet those as a group.
As we meet together monthly for potluck and discussion, we continue to discover the different paths that our spiritual journeys have taken us and continue to take us. We have explored diversity of thought and belief as the basis for most of what we have discussed this year. This diversity can provide times of isolation for those who feel that their viewpoints meet with polite acceptance rather than with a spirit of acknowledging a different way.
Our holiday worship sharing took the form of adding flowers and greenery to a central bowl of water. The stems as our individual selves coming together in the common spirit as symbolized by the water provided much for Friends to contemplate. Friends expressed unity with this new tradition.
We feel that we have a sense of connectedness to one another evidenced by our circular handshake at the rise of Meeting. Perhaps, the energy passed from one to the other will help to balance the spiritual energy that we feel corporately – those who have more to give share with those who are feeling “dry”. We trust that these shared feelings are expressed in our daily lives with the rest of the world