Quaker Universalist Conversations

Open-Heart Urgency

Ever since I was diagnosed with a heart condition, I have rarely gone a month without attending to the needed remedy (for a benign condition). I try to get weekly outdoor exercise and shop for omega-3 foods. I also look to Friends to be just that—an accepting, non-stressful encouragement of holistic humanity.

Comparing this to the regimen necessary for the survival of Pennsylvania’s former governor, recipient of a heart transplant, I came to realize the difference between personal prayer/spirituality and communal worship.

Simply put, personal spirituality is the on-again, off-again attention to the same old uneasiness concerning the heart of humanity/human condition. Usually, a few times a week, along with Sunday shopping-around, is sufficient to satisfy my claim to being a responsible/spiritual person.

Yet, when I take the Teacher/Rabboni at the Word, I shutter/quake at the awesome responsibility of attending to a new heart that is communal worship.

Friends Meeting of Washington, DC

I admit how tempting, even natural, it is to reject what I am given in worship. I am in-patient with the need for many/much supporters/assistance for daily, even hourly, physical and occupational therapy that worship demands of me. I especially recoil from the thought of being governed, rather than governing my destiny.

Friends, don’t think that personal spirituality and/or Sunday shopping is anything like the brutally creative experience of being the beneficiary of a new heart (Christ’s) realized as “worship in spirit and truth.”

Ineluctably yours,
Clem Gerdelmann

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