M C W I S D O M N U I N S C T I R L Y
There is that near you which will guide you. Wait for it and be sure you keep to it.
These words of Isaac Penington are as significant to our spiritual journey today as they were back in the 1600s when he wrote them. But how do we discern the difference between a ‘good idea’ and a leading from the Spirit? How do we come to know that one who is “near you which will guide you?
The key is to listen - the primary intention of our Meeting for Worship. To wait expectantly on the Spirit means emptying ourselves of that which distracts – a truly challenging task, as the clamor of daily life intrudes on our every waking moment: work we need to finish, the ideas for our next project, the concerns we have for others. All are very worthy thoughts, but in order to hear the voice of the one who will guide us, these distractions must be set aside.
Early Friends would engage the issues of life during the week, and then on First Day, their journey to the Meetinghouse would be their opportunity to prepare their hearts and minds for worship – to empty the vessel so it could be filled with the wisdom of God. We might say that we cannot possibly do that in our busy world today, but there are practices we can make a part of our routine, such as minimizing our First Day morning conversations with others, not playing the radio in the car on the way to Meeting, taking a few moments with Scripture or other spiritual writings, or spending quiet time outdoors, soaking in the blessings of nature. These are small ways that can keep us from holding our own agenda in the Light rather than allowing the Light to shine on that which the Spirit wants us to hear.
Imagine the depth of the pool of wisdom into which we would be immersed, both as individuals and as a Meeting. Let us then hold this treasure in the “earthen vessels” of our hearts, “so that the wisdom we receive is from God and not from us” (paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 4:7).