Maybe it was the brilliant sunshine and RantWoman's eyeballs fussing slightly over all of RantWoman's input management options. Take the glasses off. Put the sunglasses on. Take the hat off. Put the hat on. Squint at something up close to cut the annoyance of trying to focus into the middle distance... Maybe it was the lingering effects either of the lively George Fox themed discussion hour or of the caffeine at social hour. Either way, RantWoman was probably not as distressed as many by the distractions of last Sunday's preposterously popcorn Meeting for Worship.
Popcorn, for those of you new to Quakerese, means one vocal ministry, either sung or spoken, after another with barely a break to breathe between. Popcorn meetings for worship usually are considered by seasoned Friends to be distracting, disrespectful, uncentering, and for various other reasons undesirable. RantWoman respectfully and with careful caveats dissents, at least very occasionally, as a severe abberration from decent spells of better centered worship!
RantWoman took glad note of many visitors and relative newcomers even though they were noticed because of contributing thoughtlessly to the popcorn. RantWoman would never want a steady diet of that much popcorn but is quite willing to cut newcomers SOME slack. RantWoman also finds herself seasoning the peculiar insight that perhaps it was the popcorn, the mindless children frolicking in the springtime way messages flowed which made it safe for Friends riding the tide of popcorn to offer the messages they did.
Here's the deal. RantWoman does not want too many Meetings in a row where there are several spoken and sung messages, at least two big themes, and all kinds of things including 4 important pastoral care items tumbling out. Those 4 items: a Friend thanking Friends for previously helping her joyously remember her late husband near the anniversary of his passing, a Friend whose very much alive husband is having more medical problems, a Friend with a friend going through DT's and substance abuse recovery, and a comparatively young Friend whose brother had just died in a distant place.
RantWoman thinks people's joys and sorrows most explicitly do belong under the care of worship, in Meeting for Worship. RantWoman thinks this thought has its limits, but RantWoman also thinks Friends at her Meeting should darn well feel flattered actually that a number of newcomers chose to unburden themselves in Meeting for Worship. In fact, RantWoman keeps testing the hypothesis that newcomers felt free to share specifically because of the level of popcorn. RantWoman has more mixed feelings about some longer-time presences.
RantWoman's specific beefs:
--Two of those providing serious sorrow messages, both newcomers at least to our Meeting, got yelled at to speak up. They did speak up and RantWoman is glad others could hear their message even though she herself was close enough to hear both. RantWoman appreciates the need for Friends to hear in order to respond to messages, but the yelling felt unwelcoming.
--One of the Friends who got yelled at to speak up offered something about deep concern for a friend going through DT's and detox. He also offered an item about a scruffy Christ figure not being recognized at a country church. Considering he had just gotten yelled at, considering thoughts RantWoman has about the spiritual work of presence, accompaniment in difficult circumstance, RantWoman could see why the unrecognizable Christ theme might come up.
--Friend above was immediately rewarded by two things, one Friend who immediately stood intending it turned out just to hold the silence for a long spell. That may have been Standing Friend's intent. Another Friend, a nonagenarian relative of someone in Meeting who has probably visited very intermettently for a long time, seized upon the unrecognized Christ point and plunged immediately into something to do with George Fox before sitting back down.
--Standing Friend continued to stand, for a LONG time, while RantWoman was seasoning a message related to her experiences of what God looks like when around people dealing with substance abuse. Standing Friend was still standing, and standing, and standing and standing. Then he offered a tirade about leaving decent intervals between messages and other usually reasonable standards and then finally sat down. RantWoman has been reflecting on ways divine messages get muddled and dealing with thoughts of leadings, of needing to elbow her way into some conversations and she ALMOST, skin of her teeth, almost immediately stood to reply.
--Standing Friend's tirade might be characterized as marginally helpful to the churning popcorn, but the torrent of messages continued steadily enough that RantWoman's message about accompaniment never had enough silence to coalesce coherently.
RantWoman arrived home with at least half of Friends' messages having all but vanished from RantWoman's consciousness. This is clear indication at least to RantWoman that those messages were not necessarily meant for her. RantWoman sort of remembers a George Fox Study War No More thread. The George Fox part was delivered hot on the heels of one of the pastoral care messages and RantWoman cannot even remember it's sequence with the Study War No More message. The Study War No More sung ministry also struck RantWoman as a non sequitur. Perhaps a bigger problem, in presence of this particular hymnody, RantWoman frequently finds herself fretting about one interval she herself can never hit and annoyed when others who also have trouble offer the tune anyway.
RantWoman is filing the thought that guidance about how to season messages during meeting for worship is not necessarily delivered along with newcomers' eagerness, even just after arriving late, to experiment with Friends' worship. RantWoman thinks some subtle guidance: wait a decent interval between messages to allow the holy spirit to work on one message at a time--and speak up when called to vocal ministry--could be rotated in our list of standing announcements at the end of our weekly bulletin. However, RantWoman is conscious that we have other ways of communicating this and our weekly bulletin sometimes reads more like a grocery list of activities than something centered in spiritual life.
RantWoman also thinks that tirades during Meeting for Worship are a lousy way to have conversation about what it might mean that we are all ministers of god and how to manage so we don't drown each other with our ministries.
RantWoman is pretty sure many Friends already burdened by daily dramas were less than charmed by this flood of suffering. Again, RantWoman also would opt not to overdo if offered a choice. However, sometimes RantWoman guesses we are supposed to feel grateful that our general ambiance is centered enough to invite Friends to talk of the hard things that spilled out Sunday and to help us season how to respond from worship and individually.