After my 4th Quaker meeting, I felt a real sense of failure. I had not yet really been able to concentrate on prayer and certainly hadn’t felt moved by God. As usual my expectations were quite high, and wholly out of sync with my actual set of beliefs!
I don’t know what I thought would happen exactly. I would open my heart to God, actively seeking to have a deeper understanding of Him and spirituality in my life. Then I would get a personal message from God letting me know that I was on the right path and everything would turn out fine. Riiiiiight! I don’t even believe this sort of thing does happen – yet there I was feeling dejected that, despite my four Quaker meetings and one hour a week where I at least thought about praying even though I didn’t always manage it, I had not received personal confirmation from the Almighty that I was ok.
It makes me laugh to think about now. But I marvel at my impatience, at my forgetfulness that the journey is the most important part not necessarily the destination. I was reminded again of Elaine Pagel’s quote about needing to practice Christianity, and not just to be it. Patience is my first big lesson from the Quakers I can tell. It’s something I have so little of on a daily basis – I always want things faster, sooner. Then of course when I get there, I have a moment of shock and say “wait, I wasn’t ready for this!” It’s quite typical of my pattern.
It’s a pattern I’m looking to change. I remembered a post from a woman on a message board I read describing an incident of a bird fluttering about her head, sitting on her shoulder and chirping in her ear. After the bird flew off the woman thought to herself how wonderful it was that God had shared that moment with her. She saw that bird almost as God Himself, taking time to share His beauty with her.
I am in awe of people who can see so much beyond what is in front of their eyes. These are the truly blessed. I would have seen a bird, and more than that, I probably would have been annoyed by the chirping and flying. How many times have I missed seeing something for more than what it was? How many of God’s messages may I have not heard because I was expecting a phone call?
I’m a practical person by nature, very much seeing things for exactly what they are. I believe I can learn, and that anyone can learn, to see beyond. To be open to more than the surface physical attributes of something or someone. But like everything else it takes practice and patience. Although a phone call would be nice too! 😉