Toward a network of Friends practicing discipline

Meeting took a blessedly long time today.  Worship, twilight meeting, introductions (brief info beyond names from each of us this time), announcements (Feeling domestic, I skipped out and laid out some of the Pajama Walkingpotluck.), conversation, one child’s play (Pajama Walking, scene one), potluck, followed by the most anticipated event–for me, at least.

This last happening was a first effort by the whole meeting toward a report on the state of our Society.  We drew from a hat and read what different Friends have written in response to two prompts:

∙    let us ask the Inner Light to show us what in our individual spiritual practice is strong, and
∙    what could use more encouragement and support…

Ten Friends showed up;  others wrote brief answers, but didn’t come.  To me, this seemed a good way to begin.  It’s personal.  It’s introspective.  It asks about our spiritual practice.  It’s reminiscent of some of the first Queries, such as, “How, among Friends, did Truth advance since last Yearly Meeting and how do they fare in relation to peace and unity?”  This annual report on the state of the Society is what some Friends seem to have adapted from the practice of more frequently minuting answers to the queries.

I was surprised by how good Friends in our meeting are at finding the Light when we seek it.  Or maybe we’re just self-satisfied.  Several Friends seek better discipline or organization in turning to the Light daily or throughout a day.  Another Friend and I started skipping past preparation of the report and began to think of what we can do to improve the spiritual state of our meeting.

Organization is a day-by-day and hour-by-hour discipline.  Could we use frequent reminders?  I’m dreaming of a network of Friends who might exchange tweets, texts or email reminders.  Perhaps a query could be selected daily.  Responses from individuals in the network could be shared as the day progressed.

There are some pitfalls to be guarded against, including:
∙    recipients taking on unhelpful amounts of guilt or feelings of inferiority
∙    respondents writing self-advertisements
∙    too much text to read

There are some ways to alleviate those, including:
∙    Reminders that the network is for positive growth, not parental nagging.
∙    An easy way to opt out of the exchanges.
∙    An easy way to limit the messages one receives to the queries only.  Or to aggregate the responses all into one message.
∙    Moderation by someone with time and sensitivity.
∙    A limit on response length.
∙    A way to keep the queries relevant to the members of the network.  I think of an initial survey asking the members what topics they need help with out of a selection such as one from NPYM’s draft disciplineFaith, Prayer, Creativity, Religious Education, Discernment, Participation in the Life of the Meeting, Integrity, Witness, Community, Unity, Family, Home, Peace, Sexuality, Fear, Harmony with Creation, Simplicity, Stewardship, Equality, Right Relationship to Wealth.  The choice of queries would be determined by that survey.

At this point, it’s an unseasoned, half-baked idea.  I don’t know if anyone would be interested.

I also don’t know what communication medium would work best for this.  The email listservs I subscribe to have some of the options I’ve thought of, but the text length for responses sounds like Twitter.  There are benefits to the immediacy of reception on a mobile device.  Many queries don’t fit in a tweet.  Perhaps the first daily message needs an abridged rephrasing of the query to the personal, along with a link to the text in an online Faith and Practice.

Kinda sounds like Dial-a-Prayer, doesn’t it?  I never expected to go there….