Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Accountability to God Through Community

I have deepened my friendships with two dear friends lately. They are both people people I trust with my innermost self. Our relationships are centered first in Spirit and then by enjoyment of one another as individuals with similar tastes and ways of understanding the world.

As I've written before, I want to be part of a community that knows me intimately, knows my intentions and gifts and leadings and holds me accountable. This is sometimes known in Quaker circles as eldering.

Having discussed it in Ministry & Council at NFM many times, I've thought about eldering from the perspective of how much trust one has to have in God to be able to take on the responsibility of eldering. As a very green newcomer to Friends, I was eldered by a seasoned Friend whom I trusted and think back to that experience with love and gratitude because I know it to have been done with loving concern.

In conversation today with one of my two increasingly important-to-me friends, we talked a bit about our mutual desire to be accountable to our spiritual communities and held accountable by them when it hit me that I can trust him to hold me accountable. This understanding was a rush of good feeling followed immediately by a good measure of fear. The fear=awe kind of fear. The "be careful what you wish for" fear. The fear that I will be held accountable. When asking for community to hold me accountable, my community responded slowly. We talked about eldering and what it means and how its done and shared examples of it. We discussed gifts and leadings and prayed over and encouraged those which seemed God-given. We supported and nurtured those who were suffering and in need of being held. We moved but slowly, which I bemoaned. But you know, being faced with it now, slow was exactly what I needed. Now, being faced with the reality of two dear trusted Friends who are willing to know the deepest, darkest me and who love me anyway and support me and hold me up to God so they can know God's will for me and who are ready and able to lovingly call me out if I stray too far from the Light absolutely blows me away. Fear, yes, but relief, too. And joy.