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. 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 personal space. However, this continues to fit us and provides us the challenge to be sure that we are nurturing the spirit when we are together. It has not severely limited us in attracting new folks as we have had several seek us out. 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.
Our main connectedness is in the space of Meeting for Worship. There is found in this still quiet hour a place for all to be- reflecting on their personal connection with Spirit and the Light Within. The stillness of those around us eases us away from our individual retelling of our week again and again to a deeper place in this spiritual community. There is a commonality in each attender’s un-self conscious repose. The deepness of this stillness brings forth messages, both spoken or not, that relate our lives to the Spirit and help us see and feel on a different level. At the rise of worship we continue to share our concerns, joys and thoughts. This sharing makes very real the support that we derive from one another and from hearing about another’s journey. We feel that this is made clear in a tangible way by our circular handshake at the rise of Meeting.
We nurture our spiritual language by having discussions once a month on a given topic. A number of these topics come from articles that we have read. The time spent is lively and freewheeling. We create a space where all feel that they can share their own truth and have it be heard from the tender place that it originates.
Individually, we engage in life by witnessing to the Spirit by visitation, volunteerism and vocational accountability. .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 have as a concern our lack of corporate connection to the wider community. However, by being open to the Spirit we have built up, we have an impact on those whom we meet daily.
We mark with sadness the passing of an attender, Milton LeRoy on September 16, 2010. He gave us much by the example of his life and the openness to sharing that was present in his facing of death. We feel blessed by his presence in our community and his connection to Spirit.