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How Shall I Use My Time in Meeting for Worship?

by Chip Poston, George School

From Tuning In: Mindfulness in Teaching and Learning, pp. 76-77

1. Come into Meeting quietly. The meeting for worship begins as soon as the first person enters the Meetinghouse, and often the quality of a Meeting is related to how quietly it begins. Please do not disturb others as they worship. If you must leave before Meeting is over, go quietly, and sit in the back of the Meetinghouse when you return.

2. Sit appropriately. Find a comfortable position with your back straight. Many Friends also find it helpful to close their eyes during Meeting. These two simple acts can help you to become calm in body, mind and spirit. Please DON'T put your feet on the benches, just as you wouldn't in a church or synagogue. The Meetinghouse is a place of worship.

3. Listen deeply. Meeting is a quiet time for listening to the "inward teacher." Please do not whisper or talk with friends during Meeting and do not read during Meeting. (Although reading the Bible--or other sacred scripture--is acceptable.) Avoid any behavior which might disturb others.

4. Come to Meeting, "with heart and mind prepared." Friends do not go to Meeting with a prepared speech; nor do we go determined either to speak or not to speak. We speak when we are moved by the spirit within. However, you can bring to Meeting other people's ideas which you have found meaningful. They may help others. Words from the Bible and from Quaker history are often used in this way by Friends. It's fine--and appropriate--to share significant thoughts, ideas, or stories from your own experience and study.

5. Work to "tune in," to the 'feel' of the Meeting, which is deeper than your individual thoughts. If you give too much attention to your own ideas and emotions, you may not be able to realize the shared experience of the meeting for worship.

6. Be open to speaking in Meeting! Messages in Meeting are usually brief statements of insight, inspiration or concern. Often when people feel called to speak in Meeting, they feel their heart begin to beat rapidly. If you feel called to speak, speak! But DO speak loudly enough so that you may be heard by everyone in the Meetinghouse.

7. Allow for a time of reflection between messages. Every message should be followed by a time of at least several minutes of silence. Meeting for worship is a time for listening, not for discussion or debate. Remember that you can learn from messages with which you may not agree.

8. Shake hands with others at the end of Meeting. It's a good chance to greet friends, and maybe make new ones.

9. Share your reactions with people who spoke in Meeting. If you appreciated someone's message, tell her/him so. The feedback will mean a lot.

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