Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Sea, boats, ship wrecks,... water-based metaphors for Quaker meeting

At our last Sunday meeting for worship we heard ministry from a Friend who had been on a sailing trip, and recently returned. For her, still feeling the motion of the waves, and the unsteadiness of the room (rocking up and down!) set off thoughts of how we each sit there, bringing our own peculiar and immediate experiences. This ministry led to more nautically based ministry, which I could really relate to. Another Friend recalled first coming to Quakers and feeling like a ship-wrecked, nearly drowned soul (possibly escaped from pirates, by walking the plank!) and feeling that finding Quakers was like finding a solid rock to cling to. (She actually believed individual Friends were like rocks.) Later she realised that it's more like finding a life boat and climbing in, with a whole lot of other ship-wrecked souls.
This ministry speaks so well to me. By sheer happy luck yesterday, I heard the end of a BBC radio programme that included a reading of a poem, also very much on the theme of floating or drowning...
Here is the part that I heard, it is the end of 'Buoyancy' by Rumi

Praise, the ocean.
What we say, a little ship.
So the sea-journey goes on, and who knows where?
Just to be held by the ocean is the best luck we could have.
It's a total waking up!
Why should we grieve that we've been sleeping?
It doesn't matter how long we've been unconscious.
We're groggy, but let the guilt go.
Feel the motions of tenderness around you, the buoyancy.

The whole poem is an exquisite expression of joy, of immediacy, of feeling God in everything around us. How about these lines for describing a 'gathered' meeting...

Let the guilt go.
Feel the motions of tenderness around you, the buoyancy.


Craig Barnett said...

Beautiful poem! thanks Laura.

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jeff said...

Build Me a Boat
by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

If I communicate to my men
the love of sailing on the sea,
you will soon see them specializing
according to their thousand particular qualities:
that one will weave the canvas,
another will fell the tree in the forest,
another still will forge nails
and there will be some who observe the
stars to learn to steer,
and yet all will be as one.
To create the ship
is not to weave the canvas,
to forge the nails,
to read the stars,
but rather to convey the taste of the sea.