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.
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