It’s good that we rotate the fiduciary and functional and spiritual roles at Meeting. It’s been good for me to serve our community as Clerk and Associate Clerk. Four years is enough. I will be cheering Barb and Chris on as they endeavor to serve the Meeting. They will bring their unique talents and gifts. Treat them with kindness and respect, as you gave to me. These passing, ephemeral roles are important to our common life.
I heard that Gilbert White once said that all departing clerks should be offered therapy. I don’t need therapy. After all I’m married to a consummate therapist. But, I will need time away. It comes to me that I have been involved in religious communities for most of my life. I’m feeling drawn now to a more solitary place. I feel a need to be absent for a while after my role is over. Thus, Marilyn will at last win our 25 year plus “competition” for the chosen pew-seat by the East door. (But, only for a while!) It’s been an honor to be her bench-mate for all these years.
Quakers care for and offer up a unique religious community. No priests. No rabbis. No necessary or directed path. We find our own ways into deepened gratitude and consciousness, helping one another as best we can. Silence and emptiness, drawing us into the place beyond ego-entanglements, are our most masterful teachers. When we follow their guidance we will be safe and expansive and true to the deepest Self. “The Kingdom of God,” to use Jesus’ words, will be at hand and our lives will become more than selfish particulars but expressions of the divine generosity that birthed the stars and the birds and the winds.
Some of us are activists. Some of us are contemplatives. The wise of us know that these nurture each other. Some of us lean towards Judaism, or Buddhism or Christianity, or atheistic humanism — and isn’t that grand? Names are at best pointers and not prisons. We learn to wear our labels lightly. We say, “That of God in All,” as if that is a normal thing to say. No! Its extraordinary! Its revolutionary! It would awaken us to First Beginnings and extravagant expressions of on-going creative generosity, moment by moment, life by life. No exceptions, as the FCNL bumper sticker declares.
Thank you all for the privilege to serve. I have no advice beyond a deepened trust in silence and waiting for the Spirit that moves unexpectedly as the mountain winds. Bless you all. And may we grow together In
Grace and in Peace
Stan Grotegut, clerk
(The photo is from Cappadocia, Turkey, January 2016, a doorway into a monastic cell. Imagine that.)