Maury River Friends have much to celebrate and be grateful for: a wonderful group of Friends who not only worship together, but also visit and support one another outside of meeting. Potluck dinners in each other’s homes, distributing peace cranes during the community holiday parade, ongoing work for peace and justice, and our Christmas worship/dinner/candle-lighting continue to be high points in our lives. Completion of a minute on marriage and of practical guidelines for facilitating marriage mark the end of years of work and speak our truth with joy. Our Young Friends Service Committee—whose members are now in high school and have been part of our meeting since they were carried in by their parents each First Day—conducts an annual fundraising spaghetti dinner, works with the younger children, and enriches our lives in many ways. We also are delighted with new families who bring the next generation of children into our midst.
Our challenges are also many. This has been an intense political year, which has weighed on us. As individuals in our meeting community, we are activists; as a whole, Maury River Friends is not. In this new year with a new administration, we feel that our work is far from over, but there is a change. Instead of working against political, social, environmental, and economic policies, we are now working for these things. Another important part of these challenges is that they can close us off to the spiritual dimensions of life. How do we balance the time-consuming pressures of our everyday lives with our need for spiritual connection? How can we be in the world, but not of it? Meeting is a spiritual home that gives support and encouragement to do things beyond what we would be able to do otherwise; we need to be open to it.
The struggle to balance our lives extends into our committee work. Many of us are wrestling with setting priorities; the many demands on our time add to a sense of pressure. It is difficult to find enough Friends to make the work of each and every committee comfortable and whole.
One of our most difficult concerns is what to do with the remnants of an altar in our meetingroom. When Friends choose a meetinghouse that began as a church, we face the responsibility of deciding what to do with an altar that does not speak to Friends’ condition. We continue to hold this responsibility in the Light and wait for guidance.
Paramount, among the reasons for celebration and the awareness of struggle, we have the understanding that Maury River Friends is a spiritual home where we can practice being Quakers, where we experience that expectant waiting knowing that the seed is in each of us. Meeting gives us the strength to come back. There is always a welcome in the background, and it is as if we never left. The Spirit is unchanged; the immortality of God is beyond words.