catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 9, Num 17 :: 2010.09.24 — 2010.10.07


Weighty friends

For as long as I can remember, Georgeanna has been the one who “gathered” our group into silence on Wednesday nights. She had a quick smile, a motherly way and a hospitable manner. But when all our greeting energies started to settle, it was Georgeanna who led us into silence, and often Georgeanna who led us back to outward connection when our worship time was done. I can’t think of a time when she felt led to speak from the silence; rather, her role seemed to be to hold the space and nurture our little group as we sought connection with the divine, together in spiritual silence.

Barb was a leader in a different way. Down-to-earth and practical, with a loud, infectious laugh, Barb loved board games (and would always relish the chance to beat you again!). A loving spirit, a happy wife and fun playmate, Barb stood in meeting one morning a year or so after her beloved husband died and said, “What more is asked of us but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God? I am content,” and she sat down. Two weeks later, in the midst of her travels, Barb caught pneumonia and died suddenly. Our grief was great and we found it hard to believe and accept, but looking back, I sensed Barb was telling us she felt complete and was ready to go.

Betsy was a colorful, artistic spirit. Always feeling a bit of an uncomfortable pull between her love of bright colors and appreciation for beauty and her traditional views of the staid, quiet Quaker who didn’t invest in adornments beyond that of the spirit, Betsy was a full-blown mystic who had a sense of God so pronounced she received help in the most ordinary ways —promptings that led her to the missing prescription bottle top, helped her reach a place she’d never visited before and showed her how to pray. Once in a while she found herself on her feet in meeting for worship, singing one chorus of a hymn that had bubbled up. The experience always unnerved her, she told me later, and she wished it wouldn’t keep happening.

Each of these women — all then in their 70s, and all no longer on the earth — seemed to me to be “weighty friends.” Quakers think of this concept of “weight” as a kind of rootedness, someone who has a deep and vibrant spiritual life, someone who has walked with God through countless valleys and peaks, a person who can bring that wisdom and profound love to help others along the way. When you have a question about your spiritual life, seek out a weighty friend — he or she has most likely been right where you are. When you feel an inner nudge but don’t understand what it’s all about, spend some time with a weighty friend and your leadings get clearer.

I love this idea of weightiness: that our roots gradually grow and extend into the earth as our relationship with the divine unfolds. I’m thankful for the ideas and love and examples Georgeanna, Barb and Betsy brought into my life, and I hope my roots are growing so that my own “weightiness” can be a support for others who are traveling this rich, surprising, and love-filled path.

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