Alick Munro reflects on luck, relating and being one another's clergy
We are lucky, we Friends, that we found each other: capable of sitting, open, worshipping in stillness, heightening awareness, bathing in light, experiencing, listening, musing, praying, acknowledging, confessing, atoning, entreating, glorifying, blessing – in private – or devising, contributing, sharing and hoping to enrich.
In my opinion, most folk can’t do that. They are too traumatised, never had the time to learn, sold on consumerism, competition – hurt on loss. It’s cyclical.
If belief and faith come their way at all, it is via agents – clergy – and usually only in times of crisis. The clergy are honest and sincere. They have experienced life and studied deeply. My sister is one and I love her. She knows that in egalitarian, Presbyterian churches these clergy need loving and supportive mentorship and appraisal – bishops, perhaps.
We Friends concluded that we are to be one another’s clergy. But our Meetings, in stillness, may be worse than useless. We may depart more alienated than ever, unless we also relate to each other.
Maybe we, too, need to ensure that we have a structure in which we can be lovingly and supportively mentored, appraised and helped to develop. ‘Imposing’ overseers may not be what is required. In our Meetings we should be assured that we are in a safe place, where we can ourselves take the initiative to seek out those whom we feel we need to support us, in the expectation that they will provide it, and those for whom we feel we can provide meaningful support. They may be the same people, or they may not. The role of our overseers is to ensure that our Meetings are, indeed, safe places for this purpose.
The process of mutual support is likely to involve musing together – in an atmosphere of ‘speakeasy’ – in Meeting houses, homes, parks, hostelries, or on walks. In this process we may need to alternate in roles as each other’s parents and children, or we may need to be equals, in a two-way street – lots of two-way streets.
What of those who enquire about what we are and who we are? Is a largely silent Meeting for Worship likely to be something they can relate to? Might it be better to host hospitable, musing speakeasy, colloquia – slow-paced, disciplined, sharing the experience of those present on predetermined, weighty matters – content and open to learn, patient not to proselytise.
Let us feel free to make these things happen.
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