Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Dance of obedience

Last week, I was privileged to, again, be the focus of a Quaker clearness committee, the small-group process of deep listening to another. Listening, reflecting back what the speaker said, asking questions for clarity and assisting that person in discovering the guidance of their Inner Teacher.

This is the fifth clearness committee I've been the subject of; I've served on several others. Each one has been different. Some, such as those for membership or marriage, are more clear cut with questions outlined. Mine on concerns of ministry generally seek answers to where God is leading me and currently working in my life. Of course, I am constantly discerning that for myself and checking in with others who nurture me, but, sometimes, I suspect, those sources tell me what I want to hear, not necessarily what I ought to hear.

The same person who has convened my last three sessions has scrupulously ensured that each one be as pure as possible. Because of his careful guidance, these sessions have been gifts. A previous committee offered advice that weighed me down. Another was silent and left me wondering and in doubt.

The two questions with which I am working from my most recent session include naming the props I feel Spirit is asking me to surrender and removing my block to aligning my spiritual work with income and career.

Clearly, God told me I did not need props such a a book, a turtlebox or studio. Initially, I thought that meant to surrender those things. Then I surmised it could signify a willingness to surrender them. With patient listening and careful questions, I am understanding what those objects Spirit named represent: worldly recognition, identity and security. My life is about faithfulness in using my gifts as God desires. [Interestingly, I just led a retreat session in naming gifts]. I now see it's about laying down illusion and forming a different dream, one I co-create with Spirit, than the world pushes and let the rest fall into place WITHOUT worry, fear or doubt.

F(ear) = listening to the wrong source
Doodling I did prepping for a retreat on naming gifts

Out of that clearness session also came the suggestion to read a book by Quaker Jan Wood called "Christians at Work." Typically, I veer from anything with the word Christian in the title, assuming there's some sort of judgment. But I know Jan Wood; she's traveled to our meetinghouse to facilitate two retreats and her Good News Associates presented me with a ministry grant last summer. She sees things in fresh ways, inspired by Jesus and scripture.

In fact, years ago, when she was summoned for a retreat on stewardship, she rocked our world, looking directly at us at pointing out that we should and could be funding the ministry of 6 people. She said stewardship, according to Jesus' view, is not about comfort and buildings, but about supporting people and ministry. A few years later, when our meeting so very easily agreed to spend $90,000 on new "green" windows, Jan's words haunted me. I spoke up and said that if we could easily spend money on comfort and energy efficiency, couldn't we also support ministry. The meeting listened and, eventually, set up a ministry fund. That was years ago and I had no idea I would ever apply for or be the recipient of any of that funding, I just knew what Jan Wood had said. God works in wonderful and mysterious ways.

Jan's book has been just the tonic I needed, describing how work, originally as God intended, was a natural, shared adventure, not slaving away at a boring desk job just to pay the bills. She speaks of the world's system and God's:
"When we're knitted back into God's heart through Jesus, we leave the systems of this world based on distrust of God and reliance on human senses and wisdom."
She speaks of obedience as relaxing, a liberating dance and how tasks, turned to service, become profound worship.

This is where I want to live.

• How do I seek my Inner Teacher?
• Where do I seek outside help in that listening and discerning?
• What difference can that deep listening by another make?
• What is or has God asked me to surrender?
• What does obedience look like for me?

I'm not sure I
could have been
on the hotseat,
she remarked

meaning the focus
of a clearness

for me, it
wasn't that,
but the chance
to get out of
my own head

and into my heart
where Jesus,
the Inner Teacher,

once there,
I'm certain
that I don't
ever want 
to leave

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