Monday, January 07, 2008

Taking a chance on friendship

Yesterday I went to a Friends (Quaker) meeting again, with a writer friend of mine who is sampling various houses of worship for a project. (We'll be attending the Christian Science church in a few weeks.)

We had the unique experience of being included in the meeting's "threshing" session afterward. There was an issue before the meeting (their word for membership) about gambling, and everyone was invited to speak as the Spirit moved on the situation.

The session was fascinating. I spoke my truth about gambling (that it involves taking a chance, and I don't like to introduce chance into my life because I believe there's a divine order to things), and listened to the wisdom of the many other speakers. The session started with an invitation to be prepared to have your ideas about gambling changed, i.e., to expect to learn something. And I did!

Without going into too many details, the discussion ranged from casinos to the stock market to the lottery to raffles, and the subject had come up because of something that had taken place with the children of the meeting. So the subject was somewhat sensitive. Speakers would rise and speak, and then there would be some silence to digest, and then another speaker would be recognized by the moderator.

However, the conversation wasn't always peaceable. One person in particular got hurt feelings and stood up to walk out. What happened next was amazing.

Several other friends jumped up to urge this person to stay. They expressed support and love and true fellowship. One friend came over and sat right beside the wounded person.

This person sat back down, which moved me to tears. The following comments soon turned from an abstract discussion about the right / wrong of different forms of gambling to an affirmation that the most important issue before them was treating each other with lovingkindness. Lovingkindness was emphasized and prayed over. The entire discussion took a hour and a half.

And I gained a new appreciation for the term "Friends." Friendship is a commitment to work things out and not break apart, no matter what. This meeting showed their commitment to that ideal. To see this commitment in action in a worship setting floored me. They did not let go until they reached a place of peace.

What else did I gain? I left the meeting wanting to be a better friend.

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 1/07/2008 11:56:00 AM, Blogger Kate said...

You're a great friend...thanks for being mine...

I agree, this commitment to persist in working things out, even after relationships change in character, volume and tone (and this can happen for many reasons and in many ways)...takes humility, courage, and grace...and what could possibly teach us more about being truly "Christ" like...

thank you for the reminder...

to quote Samuel Johnson, Ah..."the endearing elegance of female friendship"....I am so grateful for yours.

with Love, Kate

At 1/07/2008 12:08:00 PM, Blogger Laura Matthews said...

thank you sweet kate!


At 1/07/2008 12:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is a great story!
and a wonderful testament
I am curious what their place of peace about gambling ended up?


At 1/07/2008 12:19:00 PM, Blogger Laura Matthews said...

it seemed to me it was basically not criticizing each other for things of the past but moving forward to use what they'd learned. and loving each other every step of the way.

At 1/07/2008 02:45:00 PM, Blogger Janine said...

Thanks for sharing that. I've never been to a Quaker meeting, so I'm glad to know how they resolve problems. What a great example!

At 1/07/2008 04:00:00 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

How beautiful! What a treat to have a glimpse of this meeting. Thank you for sharing it. Definitely a wonderful example of the Christ in action!

thank you friend!


At 1/08/2008 09:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh. I have to laugh at how wonderful and freeing this is to hear about. It's so right.

The people of my little church were having differences. Someone made a motion that we speak to each other with lovingkindness even if we disagree. It was voted down because "Jesus had no civil words for evil." It was just too silly and indulgent and yes, the church broke in two a few months later.

It seems to me those people loved each other more than they loved their positions on the abstract issues they were discussing.

And now it will be for me to love the people of my little church that way -- not to condemn or judge or disapprove, but genuinely love.

Thanks for writing this.


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