This weekend I spent blessed time with Friends of the Belfast Area Friends Meeting. I attended a Saturday evening potluck, to speak about NEYM Sessions 2014. I was able to set up a projector and show off the new NEYM website, and answer a lot of questions.
More importantly were the gifts that I received in this visit. We were able to speak of the new fee structure in terms of how we welcome all into our community. I heard of traditions of the past. I learned about where the meeting was now, both in conversations with the meeting’s clerk (who I stayed with for the weekend) and many members. We spoke about how many Friends had enjoyed the new Quakerspeak videos, and mused about how a Quaker Voluntary Service house might find its way to rural Maine someday.
Around a table filled with good hearty food and laughter, I learned about the Life among these Friends from this small and growing meeting in Maine. They have had the challenge of having to move their meeting space numerous times in the past few years – and now have found a more stable, welcoming home in downtown Belfast. Friends shared with me news of the Maine-Wabanaki REACH program, and how that good work is helping in healing and advocacy for the Wabanaki communities of Maine.
Our conversation turned to the subject of outreach, and volunteerism, and how we are led in discernment to paths of greater engagement. Also, how sometimes we are caught in good work that might not be ours to do in this time. A faithful group, holding important questions, as they relate to their meeting community, and the wider world. I found a willingness and an openness to share both deep joy and spiritual dilemmas. We often feel into a quiet, worshipful space around the table, considering in the silence what others had said.
My next day was a welcoming, joyful visit for worship and fellowship. The meeting has embarked on a monthly consideration of a Quaker testimony, with worship sharing around a query or shared readings. This month’s reading led to prayerful discussion.
I heard stories of the meeting’s history. I heard stories of the outreach and efforts to deepen worship within the meeting in this time. I was welcomed and encouraged to return.
This has been my experience for many visits to Quaker meetings in rural Maine. Small meetings of deep faith, in a caring community as they continue to gather and welcome and explore where they are called.