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Last week, I packed my girls and myself up, dropped one off at Quaker camp, then, drove the other with me to a wonderful Quaker retreat week we’ve previously attended. We arrived at dinner. I warmed up to the query that evening, “How do you confess God’s goodness?” and received an answer, though was not prepared to give it yet.
I think it was a warm-up for what would happen during Bible study the next morning. One well-known and loved Friend and his wife were aiming to leave after breakfast and we’d hardly crossed paths. Except that he felt he had a message to give and he remained to voice it.
And it hit me like a ton of bricks. I can’t recall his exact words and he was much more eloquent, but the essence was about doors opening and closing in our lives and living into the yes and no of where God is directing us. Re-penting, he called it. Re-directing. That word, repent, has been with me several weeks when I encountered it elsewhere and began to open to its true meaning. This faithful Quaker talked about God’s two arms, the yes and no, directing us where we belong. Often, we look at the door closing as failure, he said, but, in his life, it is a turning toward God even if the circumstance seems less than ideal.
SHAZAM, my body started slowly rocking, absorbing this deep message. I instantly knew that 14 years ago a door permanently closed, moving me on a closer walk with God. However, until that morning on the porch of Stillwater Meeting in Barnesville, OH, I hadn’t realized that I keep trying to re-open that door. A door that is supposed to remain closed and my attempts to re-enter only divert my energy.
I was beginning to loosen my grip and relax into this wonderful news.
It spoke to other friends, who shared how. I, finally, was led to say that what was happening was beyond words, involved tears and I felt the need for companionship. Without hesitation, warm arms emerged in an embrace as the tears streamed and my body rocked. It was the best hug I’ve ever received, as if God herself was giving it. We touched for quite some time. I’m not really sure how long as time stood peacefully and comfortingly still. When worship broke, a pure and loving soul walked over and draped us in a colorful shawl. He said it looked like we needed it.
Finally, my companion and I traded names, though we knew we’d met on some deep and inexplicable level. And, as grace would have it, Connie was soon leaving.
Most of the time in the following worship, my body shook, dare I say quaked. In another time, another place, I would have stopped it. I knew that I could, but I didn’t want to, not even for appearance. I understood no one here would question any of it. That’s how safe it was. The only other time I’ve experienced that physical sensation was after delivering babies. My body and teeth shook and chattered; a response, I suspect, of release.
I was led to give my answer to the previous evening’s query. It was something like “I confess God’s goodness by following her calling to:
– be love
and much more difficult for some, including me,
– be loved
To me, it seems that simple, though not always so easy to carry out. Now, I have a memory of a tangible, other-worldly embrace to help me remember I am loved.
• When have another’s words really opened me?
• How has my cry for companionship been answered?
• How have I been comforted by God?
• How does that experience sustain me?
• How do I confess God’s goodness?
innocently walking in,
finding my place on
the wooden bench
and sinking in
because this is
a sacred place,
where God always
and, because a Friend
listened and obeyed,
in to comfort
and a third,
to wrap us
my invisible burden
has been lifted
THIS is God’s