This morning I awakened spontaneously, at about 6am. Perhaps it was the soft light filtering through the windows that woke me, perhaps it was the noises of Friends around me stretching and shifting in their bunks. In any case, I figured that as long as I was up so early, I would attend the early Meeting for Healing that was scheduled before breakfast.
We were staying in Temescal Canyon, just a few miles away from Malibu, with Quakers from all over southern California. It was our family’s first regional Quaker gathering–so much of it was new to us.
For example, the night before I’d watched a group of Friends worshipfully dancing in rhythm around candles. That had been strange to me, but beautiful. I hadn’t ever seen anyone participating sacred dance before. I’d sat and watched out of the corner of my eye while chatting with a few other women. Amazed at bodies young and old, in rapture. I’d been tempted to join in, but realized that I could enjoy it better from watching on the sidelines…
This morning as I stepped into the room where the Meeting for Healing was taking place, it seemed like any other Meeting for Worship. A small group of Friends sat in a simple circle of chairs. The one main difference was the empty chair in the center. Within a few moments a woman stepped forward and sat in the chair. All remained silent for quite some time. And then another woman walked over to her and placed her hands on the other woman’s head. Then hovered her hands over the seated woman’s shoulders, neck, and arms. Then she walked around and hovered her hands over the Friend’s legs. Then she returned to standing behind her chair again and placed her hands on her head for several moments.
After some silent time, that woman left the center chair and another woman took her place. A Friend from the circle came up behind her and wrapped her in a warm embrace, holding her tightly for several minutes.
This process continued through several different people who chose to sit in the chair. Friends spontaneously rose and ministered to them in very physical and loving ways. Through embrace and touch.
I was moved by this so deeply that it was hard for me to process what I was seeing. Such generosity of spirit. Without rules. Without gender. Without words. Wrapped in love, hope and faith. It was as mystical and as strange to me as the dancing had been the night before. But it was also completely comfortable and familiar.
When I was in the hospital last summer, our Meeting gathered and prayed for my healing. Then, I had no idea then what exactly it meant for Friends to minister to each others’ bodies and spirits in such an intimate manner.
But I’m beginning to understand now.
And I’m also slowly realizing that those times I am so insistent on carrying my own burdens…
even when they are weighty…
I can let a Friend reach out and help me along the way.
Picture of some stone steps along a pathway near the Lodge where we at our meals at Temescal Canyon. I loved the stonework all around the camp area and especially here, covered in red leaves.