Query 5: Mutual care (Response for 5th month, 2012)

1. How do we respond to other’s personal needs and difficulties in sensitive and useful ways?

Friends shared how those among us have opened their homes, shared time, visited the sick in their home, and listened. Both givers and receivers are thankful for this exchange of care. Some Friends struggle to share when they need support, and we wonder if this may be because we have moved away from the practice of gathering for fellowship between worship times. Some Friends have cherished meeting with individual Laughing Waters Friends for prayer, for sharing, for study, or in care committees, and Friends are glad that we continue such interactions even when we don’t see eye to eye.

Still other Friends do not rely on Friends for support, relying more on family and network of non-Quaker friends. Some Friends spoke of a habit of relying more on ourselves than others. Laughing Waters relationships, on First Days and at other times, are something we are grateful for. There is a sense that care and help are available, and that help is offered.

2. Do we encourage both men and women to share in care giving?

Friends answered this query with a hearty “yes.” We have benefitted from the gracious leadership of both women and men. We appreciate seeing our very young being held by men and women, and are glad to witness women and men listening to and playing with older children. The practice of care-giving from all Friends in our group feels authentic.

3. What are we doing to welcome and draw members and attenders of all ages into the fellowship of the meeting?

We are grateful for efforts and action for First Day School, for the priority Friends place on prayer and action for our children, and for finding way forward as God led through difficulties to address changing needs in First Day School. We thankful that being a small group often gives us opportunity to attend to needs that are present. We appreciate the biblical knowledge and sharing among all ages, and we’re glad for the range of ages in our group. We like the idea of meeting together for whatever reason: a beach day by the river, a potluck, sharing our faith journeys, sharing our biking stories, and in other ways.

4. How do we help our children feel the loving care of the meeting?

We appreciate that we are able to consider this query in the context of individual children rather than in the context of generic “kids,” and that we endeavor to care for each member and attender regardless of age according to the needs of each as we are led by God. We echo the ideas in #2 above, “We appreciate seeing our very young being held by men and women, and are glad to see woman and men listening to and playing with older children. The practice of care-giving from all Friends in our group feels authentic.” And we echo the ideas in #3 above, “We are grateful for efforts and action for First Day School, for the priority Friends place on prayer and action for our children, and for finding way forward as God led through difficulties to address changing needs in First Day School.”

5. What do the children contribute to the meeting?

We hold questions about how we may invite our youth to more fully participate in the life of the group. In meetings for worship with attention to business and in First Day School committee we continue to ask ourselves, “How do we help youth find their gifts? How do we nurture those gifts?”

6. How do we keep in touch with inactive and distant members and attenders?

We recognize that we are most successful in maintaining contact when there is two-way communication as has been the case with the St Cloud worship group. We realize the need to have closure for relationships that have ended, and have felt comfortable with individual communication with those who are in transition away from the group.We have asked people on the meeting’s mail list how they are and whether they still want to be included on the mailing list. We acknowledge the wisdom of allowing relationships to change and evolve naturally. We appreciate the older Quaker practice of scheduled regular check-ins with members and attenders, and acknowledge that our group does not as yet engage in such.

(Brad, recorder)