I escorted my wife this foggy Sunday morning on the way to Portland. She was teaching a fabric art class at A Common Thread. I was planning to worship somewhere in the Portland area, then attend a threshing session with Multnomah Friends Meeting on the revision of Faith & Practice.
I wasn’t sure where to worship. When out of town, I often want to try something new. A Google search for ‘agnus dei Portland’ yielded little. Somehow, I figured out I wanted Imago Dei Community. The website told me it met at the wrong times. I didn’t want to walk in late when I wasn’t sure I would even remain. [Be patient, this involved story is leading somewhere.]
My best choices seemed to be arriving on time to West Hills Friends, where I had visited twice over the past dozen years, or arriving late at Multnomah.
She drove. I dozed. By our arrival at the site of her class, I knew I wanted to arrive on time and stay awake at West Hills. That felt a better option than arriving late and sleeping in the back of the farther away silent meeting.
Mike‘s message at West Hills invited us to live in faith that God will lead us through our lives in this new year–moment to moment, obviating the need for rules to live by.
During the worship following, I found myself reflecting on discernment. Patricia Loring has cued me in on the prospects for discovery over a lifetime of a feeling and sensing way of discernment. “Earlier Friends, ” she writes, “often spoke of ‘feeling after’ Truth…” (Loring, P. 1999. Listening Spirituality: Corporate Spiritual Practice Among Friends. Openings Press. p. 73.) This is different from the clear life leadings (career, marriage) with which God has shaken me in my boots and brought me to blessings beyond any I could expect. This is practicing moment-to-moment reliance on the Spirit to help know which street to take or which coat to wear.
To find my way through these choices, I think, I center, I observe how I feel, I sense what kind of pressure there is in my midsection and I notice the results of the choices that are made. I can’t say how led from without or within I am, but I’m not sure it matters.
What clearly does matter is faithful reflection and consideration of what happens and how it feels. And being thankful for the blessings we find along the way.
So, in reflection, it seems to have been a helpful choice to stay awake and prompt by attending West Hills.
The threshing at Multnomah in the early afternoon seemed fruitful, too.
Thanks to God.