Augusta Friends Worship group, located in the Central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, provides a spiritual home to 18 attenders. The great geographical distance among attenders (some as much as 40 miles) does not facilitate the frequent social exchanges that are possible when Friends are closer together. This does impact the connectedness of the Spirit that can be present and does not meet the needs of all for which that is important.
We also meet in homes, so there is no central place that can be called “home” to which attenders can gravitate. This also impacts attracting new attenders who may feel awkward at going to a new place. However, those who host feel that their holding the space for others to feel the connection to Spirit is a special thing, and they strive to make the space comfortable and centered on several levels. They also experience the grace that is left behind by having others worship in their living space.
Those who attend are on a variety of spiritual paths that have led them to this place. We also have very different concepts of God. Somehow, in the space of Meeting for Worship there is found a place for all to be- reflecting on their personal connection with Spirit This stillness can move us away from ourselves and into a collective consciousness. Sometimes, thoughts are shared by a message during meeting or in the time at the rise of meeting when many different ideas can come forth. Perhaps, it is present in the small exchanges that occur during the social time. However it is done, there is the sense of acceptance, of feeling that others will make an effort to listen to what is being said with the open heart necessary to hear behind the words.
Individually, we engage in life by witnessing to that Spirit by visitation, volunteerism or involvements in the political process. All attenders are well read in a variety of disciplines and have deep spiritual experiences. This nurtures the thoughts that can be shared. .Somehow, what we do collectively in worship gives us the notion that we can count individually as well. When we come together, that sharing of the individual allows all to feel the connection. We do not have a corporate witness to the community as such but by being open to the Spirit we have an impact on those whom we meet daily.