Being a Quaker isn’t just about sitting in silence for an hour on Sunday morning. Fritz Weiss shares some of the ways he carries his Quakerism throughout the week.
My experience of being a Friend is that being a Friend is a commitment of your life. It isn’t a commitment of your time on Sunday or your time when you are gathered for worship, it is a commitment to how you are in the world.
Being a Quaker
My name is Fritz Weiss. I live in Portland, Maine and I’m a member of Portland Friends Meeting in New England Yearly Meeting.
Finding Moments of Prayer and Reflection
Being a Friend requires of us an openness to the Divine as we walk in the woods, as we are gathered with our family, as we are in our work, which takes effort. It takes discipline. I start each morning with a period of prayer and reflection and find moments through the day where I can stop and breathe and center into that sense of God that is at the heart of us.
In my professional life I would find myself at a moment before a meeting started or at a moment before a conversation, taking that breath and letting go of a sense of what I wanted the outcome to be and turning to God and saying, “in your hands,” and then going forward and continuing to do this secular, prosaic work, but in a sense looking from that moment to invite God in.
The Importance of Gathering Together
But that’s not sufficient. It’s not all there is. Early Friends understood that we felt God more powerfully and most powerfully when we were gathered together—that seeking on our own and seeking by ourselves prepares us for the experience of coming together as a community and seeking together, and experiencing God together. We know the truth we’re given, but we only have our experience, and if that’s the only truth we know, it’s limited.
Welcoming Opportunities to Gather
The opportunities to gather aren’t just on Sunday mornings. The opportunities to gather and be a body experiencing that which we call God happen at meals, happen at other moments during the week. One of the ways I am a Quaker through the week is welcoming those opportunities. Early Friends used the word “opportunities” as invitations to ministry. There was an “opportunity.” That awareness, to me, that word… we miss opportunities all the time. We’re too busy, we’re too distracted, we’re too caught up in our own lives and we miss that moment and to me part of being a Quaker is constantly seeking to be open so that we don’t miss those opportunities.
Living with Attentiveness
Being a Friend through the week requires a particular form of attentiveness, a particular form of openness, a particular form of gratitude and celebration. How can we be in God’s presence and not be joyful? How can we be doing God’s work and not be celebrating? Of course that’s what we celebrate, and yet there are times when that celebration and that joy isn’t present, where there’s stress and tired and sad. And yet God is there in those times too.
Attentiveness isn’t just attentiveness to the moments when God is present, it’s attentiveness to the moments when we feel the absence, and that is part of living in God’s hands and knowing that joy will be back.