Moderator: Colleen Finzel
the first Brown Bag Discussion of the year, a group of Friends
gathered in the Schoolhouse at Downingtown Friends Meeting to discuss
Leadings of the Spirit that they had had during 2008. Through the
discussion, it came out that not everyone knew what leadings were and
what do if they had one.
What is a leading?
Often a leading is based on a foundation. We donít know where itís
going to go, but we just throw it out there.
Where do leadings come from?
A leading doesnít come from the head. It comes from the heart, so
said one of our Meetingís senior members. "I had what was a
very unusual experience for me many years agoĖcalling up someone at
Meeting and asking them if theyíd like to have a clearness
committee," she added. And as far as Iím concerned, it came
from nowhere, but, obviously, it did come from some place. And that
was my first understanding of what a leading could be."
A person who now comes to our Meeting but previously attended
several others, noted that trust is a huge issue in sharing feelings
or ideas with another person.
He added, "I recently had an experience that I just felt I
didnít know what to do. This was something I agreed to do a year
ago, and it bothered me that I didnít have any good reason not to do
it, other than my resistance. It wasnít anything I hadnít done
before, but I definitely felt a clarity in that I just didnít want
to do it. I tried talking myself out of it by explaining away the
resistance. But then I decided to give into the resistance and trust
it for no other reason than trust."
"The trust thing for me was that it may not just be about
you," he continued. "We get these vibes about us that our
yes or nos are all about our lives. But, all of sudden, things opened
up for me when I was really just called to trust without having to
give a lot of reasons for resistanceĖand that it may not be about
me. For me, the confirmation of thatĖand I sat for a long time
thinking about itĖwas just so easy. And when I was finished speaking
with my spiritual director, I had such peace. I knew what I did was
right, and I had no more reason to explain that feeling than I had to
explain resistance before. When it was over, I hung up the phone and I
felt this sense of peace. And I have no explanation for the reason I
resisted or the reason for the peace, other than what I called a
leading of the spirit And I really do trust the outcome of this way
beyond my knowing."
Sometimes we hear a voice, and we try to override that voice. Itís
whispering to us. Itís important to seek out someone to help get us
our of ourselves. Readings, which often mean nothing to other people,
may cause bells to start ringing and a sense of clarity to surface.
For some itís almost like looking down on themselves from a
different vantage point.
Does trust say something about resistance? Do they go on at the
What closes one door causes another to open. Our moderator wonders
if sometimes people might find leadings offputting. "What has the
light done for you and through you?," she asked. "Thatís
another way of thinking about it."
Has the light worked through you this past year? Did it illuminate
your own path or were you able to touch other people?
"The idea of this Web site, for instance, began in a meeting
of our Nominating
Committee, when a member noted that we were having trouble
getting to people to tell them what positions were open on various
committeesĖbecause we were having trouble filling some
positions," said our Webmaster. "So I said what we needed
was a Web site. We had one a while back but eventually it died. The
Web site idea just started to mushroom after thatĖand that became a
sort of leading for me."
So who do you call if you think you have a leading?
Probably the most logical person should contact would be their
overseer. Our moderatorís concern was that not a lot of people in
Meeting are aware that the clearness
committee process is there for leadings. Sure, they know it
for marriage or becoming a member of Meeting, but there are other ways
of using this process. Often a leading is more formal and might
require the involvement of Meeting as a whole. A person may have an
idea thatís telling them something, but theyíre shaped by the
Where do ideas for leadings come from?
some, greeting before Meeting for Worship is a spiritual leading. Itís
something that person wants to do. For others, itís teaching First
Day SchoolĖnot just teaching it, but making a difference in our
Young Friends program.
One of our Meeting members dedicated to working with Young Friends
said, "Once the thing is resolved, then I feel that now itís a
leading. Itís a leading that came to me. I didnít have any
lightbulb when I got this leading to do the orientation. I didnít
invent anythingĖthe class had been there beforeĖbut I felt that I
needed to do this. I brought this up to Worship and Ministry and a
couple of months went by and nothing happened. So I did it myself. I
did the research. I was really torn. Should I get the program ready. I
wasnít sure if it would go or not. How it all comes together. Thatís
been a new experience for me. I managed to reconcile this. If I do the
program, Ok. If not, OK. The way I reconciled it was that Iím one
person in the world, and Iíve seen the program.
The thing about a leading is that you put your heart and soul into
it, but youíre not attached to the outcome. You follow the leading,
but you may not know where itís going to take you.
Is it common with leadings for a person who has one to take the
Sometimes, the Quaker process is too long, and the person gets
impatient. They know that what they want to do is important, and it
just canít wait. But what if itís more about the personís ego.
Will their leading be in sync with where the Meeting is? If so,
will the community support it? But if itís somehow not, then it
seems itís time to back up and requery their attachment to the
outcome of their leading. They need to figure out whether itís them
or about the community? Thus, communities can be very helpful in
keeping us humbly available to God.
Serendipity can also come into play when dealing with leadings.
"What started out as simply designing our Web site has grown into
a leading to help our Meeting communicate better with the new
technologyĖnot just our Web site, but how we handle our directory,
our Google Group, etc.," added our Webmaster.
If the ego is too involved, something canít grow and a person canít
be open to somebody elseís interpretation. Or they canít be open
to someone else saying, ĎIs that the best way?í That seems to be
the struggle, but the community aspect of itĖthe idea of something
growing as a community effortĖthat is a sign that the leading is not
a personal thing.
A leading comes out of acting from the heart. And loving the
community and wanting to share that with it.
Read about the Opening
Exercises on Leadings
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