Why Meeting Matters
In 2021, we asked Fresh Pond members and attenders to tell us why meeting mattered to them. Here is a selection of the responses.
- In meeting for worship, almost all spoken messages are thoughtful and heartfelt.
- I really like “Joys, Sorrows and Concerns.” They are often challenging and/or uplifting and/or informative—and/or funny
- Business meetings are prayerful and inclusive, and the agendas are very well-planned
- Wonderful acceptance of all theological positions
Relationships among members/attenders at Fresh Pond
- Very very many caring acts and gestures
- Secret Friends is a ton of fun!
The meeting community (among ourselves, also in relation to the wider world)
- I’m impressed with how Quakers in general, and our meeting in particular, are honestly facing their past mistakes and complicity in oppressive systems.
- For me, practicing Quakerism has hopefully helped me, in my choices and my interactions with people in non-Quaker settings, to be more mindful and deliberative
Meeting Matters to me because discernment is usually done more powerfully in groups rather than as individuals. As I understand it, the most basic unit of Quakerism is the congregation, not the individual. While our own sense of conscience and various Leadings might feel powerful to us as individuals, when the gathered body discerns something it carries a weight that feels more substantial to me.Callid
Why Meeting Matters to me…because it’s the beloved communityLinda
The silent, expectant waiting I share with others in Quaker meeting for worship, continues to be one of the most potent and humbling group experiences in my spiritual journey. At eighty years of age, I have spent a lifetime searching and reaching for what most of us call God through the lens of many different religions. But the silent, expectant waiting I share with others in Quaker meeting for worship, continues to be one of the most potent and humbling group experiences in my spiritual journey. At Fresh Pond, I feel the Spirit at work almost the minute I arrive for worship. And that worship spills over into a great caring which these Friends have for each other. It both excites me and calms me all at the same time.Robert
Knowing that Friends will show up every week to share an hour of expectant waiting is a touchstone for me. It is reassuring to see everyone’s faces and know that we are all in this together. It is the group where I feel most like myself. A place where I am listened to. A place of connection. A place to talk about fears and concerns in our larger world. As well as fears and problems in my inner world.Susan
Meeting matters to me because this is where I go to be closer to God and to accept the invitation to go deeper into my spiritual life within a community of fellow seekers. I believe that God is constantly working within us, through us and around us. If we are able to be still and listen to how God is present, our lives and the lives of those around us are enriched. My personal prayer life has exponentially grown by attending meeting for worship with others. Fresh Pond Monthly Meeting has been an integral part of my spiritual life for several decades. I have made many dear friends along the way and have felt God’s presence among us. The renewal experienced from these occasions brings peace, happiness, understanding and action that was not there previously. There is a joy in experiencing this faith community that is beyond words.Lynn
I started attending meeting because I thought it was important to introduce my young daughter to the practice of contemplative silence. A wonderful thing about my childhood was that I grew up in a remote wooded area, and spent countless hours exploring the natural world by myself. My daughter is growing up in a city instead of a rural area, and in an era that is much more fast-paced and stimulating than my 80s childhood was — and while there will be many delightful aspects of her life that arise from that setting, I am aware I got so much out of those quiet contemplative hours of my childhood and I wanted her to know she has that option, too. She will receive no shortage of instruction from the world in the ways of keeping herself busy, active, stimulated, connected, productive, and she will learn to navigate for herself which of those ways are healthy and life-giving to her. I wanted to be intentional about showing her there can be healthy and beautiful ways of experiencing rest, peace, and contemplation, to give her another tool in her toolbox. And like so much of my parenting journey, as I try to love her well, I re-learn ways of loving myself well. To relax into the contemplative silence of a gathered meeting feels like a deep homecoming, an expansion of peace like a warm cloth laid across my chest. There is genuine warmth in the fellowship of Fresh Pond Meeting — I feel that the other members really love me and love my daughter, and immediately included us in their community. To be a part of this Meeting has been a balm to my spirit and helped me to stay centered and loving amidst a global pandemic and other more personal life upheavals.Amanda
Throughout my 28 years at Fresh Pond Meeting, I have learned what it is to live a more spiritual life, the invitation is always there. I have been accepted as I’ve grown and changed. No community is perfect, and there’s real love constantly being exchanged here. You don’t have to be interested in the Bible — and you can be a Bible reader. All welcome. We are LGBTQ – friendly. These are some of the primary things that keep me coming to Fresh Pond Monthly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)Gail
Below is a favorite quotation from Julian of Norwich, a medieval mystic and spiritual guide. Her testimony expresses something of my experience of Meeting at Fresh Pond MM—what happens in expectant, waiting worship, in meeting for business, committee service, Friendship, joys and sorrows, and the concerns we hold together as a community. All these experiences of Meeting matter deeply to me— Coming to know and feel the depth and breadth of God’s presence with us. It also matters to me when I yearn to feel that presence, in connection with my Meeting, yet fail. The failure is equally illuminating and transformative—an essential aspect of my spiral spiritual journey with this Meeting.Beckey
I saw God [in Meeting]
and sought God. [in Meeting]
I had God
and failed to have God. [in Meeting]
And this is,
and should be,
what Life is all about, [what Meeting is all about]
as I see it.
From Brendan Doyle’s Meditations with Julian of Norwich (1983)
Worship is unique in at Quaker Meeting and when I sit with our members and attenders, it feels like a circle of love and acceptance. We have many different realities and hardships and joys, but we come together as one with a simple message of Love. Worship takes practice. We settle and sit in silence, waiting.. expectant waiting. Quakers are united through Worship and even though we all come from different directions, emotions, and energies, the fact we have had an hour of settling and worshiping, offers a gift to each of us, knowing we have been in company and grace of each other.Kathleen
Because It allows me to practice to be at peace no matter what’s happening in my surroundings, and this practice when applied outside of the scheduled Sunday meeting, that’s when beautiful things start to happen. From a practical perspective, focusing on centering the spirit, calming the mind and resting the body, opens the way for the body and mind to flow into the different activities of daily life. Sharing this experience with the meeting as a community not only validates it, it gives it power, a power nurtured in peace that I can take with me the rest of the week. Another reason why meeting as a faith community is important to me, is the safe space it offers to share and deal with difficult situations, the pastoral care team is welcoming and as anyone would guess a Quaker makes for a really good listener.Galileo