Baptized by Tears

I finally made it to Meeting for Worship this morning, after not being able to make it for a couple of weeks in a row and only sporadically over the last few months. I’m so glad I was able to go. Third Haven Meeting has two meetinghouses: one built in the 1800s, and one built in the 1600s. The latter doesn’t have electricity and is only used during the summer and late spring, if it’s warm enough. Today was the first day this year that Meeting for Worship was held in the “old” meetinghouse.

The first time I attended Meeting for Worship, it was in that meetinghouse. Part of the reason I felt so at home right away was that the old meetinghouse reminded me of the big old barn from Arthritis Camp, which also had no electricity and big slabs of wood. It almost feels like being inside a tree: like we’re at once part of and separated from the natural environment. So I was filled with joy to be back in that sacred space, surrounded by Friends and the smell of centuries-old wood.

I’d been feeling pretty good about how I was dealing with Grandpa’s death. I thought the tears were over. But within 10 minutes of sitting in that warm silence, I felt my eyes begin to water. When the first person stood up to give her message about what a joy it was to be back in this meetinghouse and how it filled her with hope, even during a difficult time for her and her family, I was broken open. The second message was about how the waiting is an active waiting and how the true Shepherd will give us what we need. That broke me open even more.

The tears were sliding down my face, but I did not raise my hands to wipe them. I let them cleanse me and felt like I was being baptized by them. I thought a lot about Jesus and his crucifixion (I’ve been wondering something for a couple of days now, but I’m going to reread the Gospels before I post anything about it, if at all). I thought about Grandpa and how odd it is that I can remember his voice so well, but can’t hear him saying anything.

I felt the Meeting begin to come to a close. Then, my heart started pounding. “Are you kidding?” I thought. “I’m crying here and I haven’t received a message!” The pounding continued. Finally, I stood up, not knowing what the message would be. I remembered a song we used to sing at Arthritis Camp. Inwardly, I rolled my eyes, and told God that he can’t be serious. I can’t possibly sing when I’m crying like this!

But he was. So, I opened my mouth and started to sing:

It’s a pleasure to know you,” I croaked out. “It’s a comfort to see you smile.” I stopped and tried to catch my breath, and started again.

“It’s a pleasure to know you. It’s a comfort to see you smile.
It’s a pleasure to know we’ll share the road awhile.
But the pleasure is fleeting, and the comforts are far between.
It’s a pleasure to know you, and the comforts you bring.”

I sat down and the pounding stopped.

I cannot express my gratitude for my Meeting community, that it’s filled with the most wonderful people and that the buildings themselves connect with me the way they do.

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3 Comments

Filed under arthritis camp, grief, Jesus, meeting for worship, quakerism, sacraments, third haven

3 responses to “Baptized by Tears

  1. Thank you so much for sharing the experience of worship with us–so hard to put into words. (As is why I feel touched by it… but I am, I am.)

  2. I have experienced this form of baptism, and am grateful to know others who have.

  3. A survivor

    I wish I could do that. I’m beginning to understand the effects of sexual abuse and people at Meetinghouse know (it wasn’t anyone at meetinghouse who had anything to do with it) but it’s just so hard to be in that space and be there with God and be so raw. How I wish I could do that. I guess I’m not honest enough. I know it is what I need but I can’t do it. I’ve been in Meeting and I’ve started thinking and praying and it just gets to me too much. How do you keep going back after something like that? I havent lost faith. I’m still a Quaker. Silence for an hour is just something that is really hard.