A MESSAGE FROM THE REV. LINDSEY ALTVATER CLIFTON:
Easing into God’s abiding presence
The texts and Good Word for Sunday point us toward Enough: as in there is enough, God is enough. It is an invitation to a shift from scarcity to abundance, a shift from the need to feel in control to faith in God’s provision. So I’ve been thinking a lot about trust this week, which has led me back toward some Quaker wisdom I’ve carried around with me for 14 years now.
As a sophomore at Elon University, I studied abroad in London. While I was there, I spent quite a bit of time at a Quaker library doing research for a history project about the Friends’ role in the abolition of the British slave trade. In the midst of doing that work, I stumbled upon a lovely nugget of Quaker spiritual wisdom that I’ve held onto ever since: “Proceed as the way opens.”
This saying is one that requires the cultivation of deep trust in the divine unfolding of our lives. It says that no matter how much we fret or plan or try to control the course of things, we are held in Holy Care and guided by Unfailing Love. It is a letting go into God. Way opens.
Poet Nayirrah Waheed captures the essence of “way opens” in this piece, right:
To trust that “way opens,” to live accordingly, is to be water, to be a soft river instead of fire. Now, I don’t think this gets us off the hook for working toward compassion and justice and peace in the world, but I do think it can help those of us who feel too responsible for the outcomes of our lives or too bound by the expectations of others as we take a deep breath and ease into God’s abiding presence, seeking to live and love as Christ.
I wonder what call to trust that Way Opens we might be experiencing together as a community of faith? What fear or grief or need for control might we let go of together to live more fully into God’s expansive vision for our congregation? Whatever way opens, may it overflow with God’s presence, Christ’s peace, and the Holy Spirit’s love for all creation.
With deep gratitude and much love,