Sunday, November 04, 2007


Early in meeting for worship today, I was all caught up in my head--in ideas about what is ministry and what is faithfulness, and whether or not I'm "doing" Quakerism "right."

And then an echo of the Song of Songs came to me: "I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine." And everything changed, and the words washed away in just being with the Beloved. And the Light grew so bright and good around me and inside me, that I could just about bear it:

There is an hour, every week, during which I get to drop all the hard work of trying to be something, and just be what I'm supposed to be. I don't have to be strong, or wise, or clever. I don't have to anything at all, because the Beloved is there, and it's just fine...

At those times, the image comes to me, of myself as a tiny child, almost too young for speech. Have you ever seen a little girl, one just barely walking, make her way solemnly to her mother? That's me. And when I get there, I lift my arms up in the air, stiffly, the way that toddlers do.

"Up!" I say, in that toddler way. "Up!" with all the quiet confidence of the completely loved, completely trusting child.

And I go up in those warm, strong arms, and turn my head into that safe neck and shoulder, and I let go and clasp on, and I'm free in a way I have mostly forgotten how to be.

And you know, everything else--the hundred thousand words we use to strap ourselves in, corset-like, to being faithful to the Light we're given, all the Quaker or Pagan or philosophical apologetics--is really beside the point.

I am my Beloved's. And my Beloved is mine.


And everything follows from there.


Anonymous said...

Sounds great Cat. Love and caring at the core of things. I know a tree like that, four limbed and massive. I learned compassion from her

peace and health,

Heather Madrone said...

Hi Cat,

I had a similar thought in worship today. Mine was more that the kind of religion didn't matter, that it was the spirit moving in the community that mattered. If the spirit is there, it doesn't matter in the least what the outer face of the religion looks like.

It's all Thou-and-I, that direct personal relationship with the Divine.

anj said...

Whew - thanks for this place of rest today. That is one of my favorite verses, and although I do not carry that memory as a child, I remember what it was like to pick up one of my sons and bury my face in their neck, and be grateful for their life. I'm going to carry this image today, and allow the Spirit to birth in me that completely loved, completely trusting child in a different way. "Up" Thanks Cat.

Yvonne said...

Hi Cat

Al-Hallaj, the Sufi mystic, had a similar feeling:

"I am He whom I love, and He whom I love is I:
We are two spirits dwelling in one body.
If thou seest me thou seest Him,
And if thou seest Him thou seest us both"

I posted at MetaPagan about QuakerPagans and UU Pagans - hope you like it. It'd be nice to do one on Jewitches at some point, too.

Yvonne said...

Hi again,

Someone posted a link to an interesting article about dual faith practice in the comments on the MetaPagan article (see previous comment).

Liz Opp said...

I've clearly been away from the blogosphere too long! Glad to be reading you again, and I hope I can find my way back into a workable routine with blogs, at least for a little while.

As for this particular post, I was struck by this sentence: There is an hour, every week, during which I get to drop all the hard work of trying to be something, and just be what I'm supposed to be.

I have found that there is an even greater reward, and that has been--for me--to live away from Meeting as if I were still in Meeting. Every hour of every day is an opportunity for me to "just be what I'm supposed to be."

It's not just an ideal. It's a discipline that we can practice growing into.... and THEN, oh my, how much more our lives can be opened by the Spirit!

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

Hi, all!
David, Heather, Anj, it's good to hear from you. Yvonne, thanks for the article on MetaPagan--I thought it was great! I'll go and check out the link to the article there, too, forthwith.

And, Liz, thanks for your comments, as always. I must admit, I rarely really fulfill the promise I feel budding in me on First Day mornings... but I try. I sometimes compare the effects of worship with those I used to feel on incredibly hot days, when I would go for a swim in the river near my house. How welcome the cool of the water always felt... and how good it was, when I could carry some of that coolth with me on my skin on the walk home. Though, of course, sooner or later it was dissipate, and I'd have to go back to the river again to feel the freshness.

I can't carry the sweetness of meeting for worship within me for a whole week yet. But there are other, cumulative changes, that are more lasting, and I see with gratitude that I am really more patient and really more caring than I once was. Worship makes my heart more tender, and that's always good, even on weeks when that incredible relief and trusting feeling does not last very far into the week. And I can always tell when I have skipped a meeting--it's embarrassingly like the effects of skipping a shower, only the stink is more spiritual and emotional than physical...

Again, thanks for stopping by, everyone.

Liz Opp said...

Cat: Yes, it's the potential for the cumulative change to linger with us during the week in-between Meetings for Worship-- that's more of what I was wanting to get at with my comment.


Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

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