The queries for Fifth Month center on Education. Since we have very few children who are regular attenders with their families, the queries for Fifth Month that refer to the religious education of children and their spiritual upbringing are generally unused in our Meeting – though when there are children present, they are given spiritual nurture and loving care. When applied to the whole Meeting community, however, we have a very strong Adult First Day program and the spiritual uplifting that occurs with the Wednesday night gatherings. Our interactions with one another are always opportunities for learning. The advice that advocates that we “Seek…the full development of God’s gifts, which is true education,” calls us to recognize and call forth the gifts of each one of us and thus gain wisdom from their experiences and knowledge.
At the heart of this communal learning process is the time that we make “for regular periods of personal prayer and worship and for reading the Bible, Friends literature, Faith and Practice, the queries and advices, and other sources of spiritual value.” Though Friends do not hold with the Bible as the final or sole source of revelation, it is a treasure trove of deeply spiritual writings that can give us direction for our daily lives. Friends literature can open our eyes to new ways of looking at Quaker life and the spiritual journey we share as Friends. Faith and Practice, of course, is a foundational piece of our Quaker spiritual life. Not only does it clarify process questions, but it is rich with spiritual wisdom in the many reflections from ‘weighty’ Friends and Quaker ancestors. The other sources we use to strengthen our spiritual life, be they books, films, or other people, are varied in depth and scope. The important thing is that we take them as the gifts they are and remain open to what the Spirit can teach us through them. It is not so important where we go to be spiritually nourished, but that our learning leads us to “Reach out to that of God in everyone, and endeavor to live out the testimonies of Friends in all the expected and unexpected circumstances of daily life” (Advice for Fifth Month).
Lisa Erazmus and Jan Dahm
Tampa Monthly Meeting