Today's Meeting for Worship was an arduous one, not due to the ministry, but due to my own state of being. With the pressures of work beckoning, my mind had started to race. It was working at high speed to bring up potential problems that might occur over the coming weeks and months ahead - and then in turn, seeking to find potential solutions for those potential problems, and in turn attempting to evaluate further potential problems that might occur as those solutions are sought. An exhausting - and faintly ridiculous - trap to fall into!
I was very much taken by a quote that occurred on my Twitter feed ahead of going to meeting this morning which said: "You have to be willing to give up the life you've planned for in order to live the life that's waiting for you." The quote was by Joseph Campbell, who I later found out was an Irish-American academic of comparative religion.
I was also taken by the one piece of ministry given at meeting, focusing on the ongoing Quaker work towards peace in Northern Ireland and calling on members to take time to search out for the good news even when things appear bleak - which I felt in some ways linked in with the ministry I gave last week. The Friend giving ministry spoke quite simply, yet nonetheless poetically, about "the Quaker cottage sat upon the hill outside of Belfast" and the work it was doing to bring opposing communities together, often by providing activities for children.
I guess from the hour of meeting for worship, I had 10 - 15mins maximum where I felt settled and opened. The rest of the time I felt crunched up, tense, thoughts whizzing. I could have left the meeting feeling like I had somehow failed, but rather, I left more aware of my state of being - which in turn made the day easier.
Two further observations came from the meeting, of which I have little explanation for but feel are worth noting. First was momentarily observing a Friend of many years sat still across the room and being aware she will have done this for decades, and feeling in some way steadied by her still, assured demeanour. Secondly, an observation of how my posture, particularly my hand position, changed during meeting from clasped to open and then back to clasped and then back to open (with the odd checking of the watch inbetween!). These things may well be nothing, or may well be something.
This evening I have written a short poem (of sorts) to reflect my experience of meeting today - I have titled it 'Brain Taming', with slight reference to the Buddhist idea of a Monkey Mind, and I have published it on AllPoetry.com. I have recently purchased a book on writing poetry and I'm hoping it might enable me to begin to write poetry more creatively and variously. We'll see!