It rained today in my Quaker meeting: sun showers that came, and went, and came again.
Today was a good one, when I felt that power of love that holds it all together for us humans, and for the rocks and trees and animals besides. When I felt that thing that makes the Quakers quake--or makes me quake, anyway, and makes my eyes run with inner sun showers.
Call it God. Call it gratitude. Call it joy.
It was my own fault. I sat down in my meeting, and I pulled out Uncle Walt--a book of Whitman's poems. And I turned to one I'd read for the first time just this week, and which I'd flagged to read again one day in worship:
O ME! O life! of the questions of these recurring;Of the endless trains of the faithless-—of cities fill’d with the foolish;Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)Of eyes that vainly crave the light—-of the objects mean—-of the struggle ever renew’d;Of the poor results of all—-of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;The question, O me! so sad, recurring-—What good amid these, O me, O life?Answer.That you are here—that life exists, and identity;That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.
And, well, that did it. I was awash in joy.
I did it to myself--well, with a little help from the Holy Spirit. I invited Whitman to come to worship with me today. On the other hand, Leonard Cohen walked in on his own.
I've heard it said, by some Christ-centered Friends, that Liberal Quakers don't give enough thought to repentence: that we are often too smug and self-satisfied, and we mistake a pleasant glow of self-approbation for the Light of God.
We need to let the inward Light search us, search us deeply, and show us our faults so we can amend them.
They may be right.
They may be right, but I can't tell. I can't manage fear or mourning or distrust, because I am too overflowing with joy. I can't hear very much over the sound of Leonard Cohen singing "Hallelujah":
I did my best, it wasn't muchI couldn't feel, so I tried to touchI've told the truth, I didn't come to fool youAnd even thoughIt all went wrongI'll stand before the Lord of SongWith nothing on my tongue but HallelujahHallelujah, HallelujahHallelujah, HallelujahHallelujah, HallelujahHallelujah, HallelujahHallelujah, HallelujahHallelujah, HallelujahHallelujah, HallelujahHallelujah, HallelujahHallelujah