An Introduction by Susan Smith. . .
A Member of Ohio Yearly Meeting (Conservative)
The tone and purpose of Quaker Spring is to set aside our own thoughts and habits, and listen to God. The words of Isaac Penington, written in the 17th Century, open up that idea:
“Give over thine own willing, give over thine own running, give over thine own desiring to know or be anything, and sink down to the seed, which God sows in thy heart, and let that be in thee and grow in thee and breathe in thee and act in thee, and thou shalt find by sweet experience that the Lord knows that and loves and owns that, and will lead it to the inheritance of life, which is God’s portion.”
Deborah Haines’ present-day explanation of Quaker Spring adds:
“So, what is Quaker Spring? It’s an opportunity for Friends to come together in the presence of God, to sit at the feet of the Inward Teacher, to explore the inward landscape, to listen to the winds of the Spirit….It’s a time to rejoice in God’s goodness and to ‘know each other in that which is eternal.’…We Quakers tend to be very busy people. We read a lot, and talk a lot, and fall into the habit of looking for inspiration in other people’s words. We [offer here at Quaker Spring a framework to] gently remind us to look deeper, and to experience the spaciousness of God’s time….”
Another way of thinking about our time together here is to try to put away the “programmed” aspects of our life. Some of us may be used to considering ourselves “unprogrammed” Friends, in contrast to Friends from meetings with pastors and worship with a pre-defined rhythm. However, much of FGC and OYM religious life is programmed. Consider the schedules at yearly meeting time, or the FGC Gathering.
At Quaker Spring we expect to slip out of those bonds. It is hard, not only to put aside our expectations of outward schedule, but also to put aside our well-trained inclination to reason and our well-honed desire for control, and to move into trust—trusting God and therefore even truly trusting each other. For if I am resting in God’s care of me and this gathering, I do not need to defend myself, my ideas, or my desires. God will open up our path as we go along, with refreshing rest stops and interesting places to explore.
Our experience with Friends’ worship, whether “open” or “unprogrammed,” has taught us how to put aside our own planning for a little while. We invite you to extend this openness, to let God direct all your thoughts and activities while you are here at Quaker Spring, to be open to Christ’s inward guidance in your choices of what you do, even in your conversations. Let yourself get into the rhythm of checking with and listening to Christ within you, and you will find “by sweet experience” that the Lord supports your trust and fills your heart with love.