I share it with the intention of opening the possibility of a discussion if that is what we are led to do. (David Madden)
I wrote this a few weeks ago in response to the NEYM Statement on Conflict in Israel-Palestine. After thinking about it since, I have decided to share it with the Meeting on our new website. While I realize what I am saying here might be controversial, I share it with the intention of opening the possibility of a discussion if that is what we are led to do. The italicized sections are quotes from the NEYM Statement. Read More
Asking the Freeing Questions: Coming Down to Simplicity (Gunilla Norris)
“Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free, tis a gift to come down where we ought to be” . . . so the famous Shaker song goes. For me, coming down is the task of growing into more simplicity. It’s not a matter of coming up with something wonderfully superfluous and new, but of centering down into a deeper sense of knowing what is essential and therefore to be truly chosen. To be simple of heart is to grow to know. It is not a knowing ahead of time. Read More
Sharing a thought at Meeting for Worship today (Edie Morren):
“One experience that keeps drawing me back to meeting is that I never know what to expect while waiting on the spirit. Several years ago three witches attended our meeting. These women were playing the witches in Macbeth in a Shakespeare production in the park down the street. Perhaps it was their shared art form – acting -that made them so “gathered”. They were a delightful inspiration to gather with others in spirit and we welcomed them. I am not a wicken proponent . One never knows who or what will carry the message if we keep waiting on the spirit.”
Thoughts about Bayard Rustin (John Back)
Bayard Rustin, raised by his Quaker grandmother graduated from West Chester High School in 1932. Rustin best known as an organizer of the 1963 March on Washington also introduced Dr. Martin Luther King to the theory and practice of non-violence. He devoted his life to the struggle for human rights. West Chester built a new high school in 2006 and his name was proposed as the name for the school. Rustin was the most famous graduate of this relatively small community next to Westtown School where I had taught. I had not known of Bayard Rustin and naming a public school after a black activist who was gay created quite a bit of controversy. I must admit at the time I assumed the town fathers would find some way to quietly do away with the naming proposal. My daughter, Heather graduated from the same high school that Bayard Rustin attended and I am pleased to report that the new high school is named after Bayard Rustin. James Kirchick wrote an interesting opinion piece for the New York Times in September, Bayard Rustin Challenged Progressive Orthodoxies which is a pleasant surprise about someone who was black, gay, died 36 years ago and brought the Quaker philosophy to the Civil Rights movement.
“And Hear Their Death-Knell Ringing” By Lynn Gazis – Friends Journal
Grandma was the prickliest Quaker Chloe knew, as contentious as a woman could be who wouldn’t strike anyone to save her life. Whether marching in the streets with her sign “I can’t believe I still have to protest this crap,” arguing over Thanksgiving dinner with the sister who agreed with her about nothing, or dragging out a long meeting for business with arguments about the budget or wordsmithing of the State of the Meeting report, Grandma rarely let an argument lie. Once, after Chloe attended meeting for business with Grandma, she saw Madeline, the treasurer, in tears over sharp words from Grandma. Chloe never attended meeting for business again. After that day, Chloe asked Aunt Tina (the aunt who agreed with Grandma about nothing), “Why is Grandma even a Quaker? She’s the least peaceful person I know.” Aunt Tina shrugged. “I guess she feels she needs Quakerism.” Continue Reading
Nobody said a word … just silence. Silence. Silence. And in that silence I felt as though all of them were on one side and I was on the other side, by myself, with my noise. And every time I would try to get across the barrier, nothing happened. I was just Howard Thurman. And then … I don’t know when it happened, how it happened, I wish I could tell you, but somewhere in that hour I passed over the invisible line, and I became one with all the seekers. I wasn’t Howard Thurman anymore; I was, I was a human spirit involved in a creative moment with human spirits, in the presence of God.Howard Thurman, The Creative Encounter: An Interpretation of Religion and the Social Witness (Richmond, IN: Friends United Press, 1972), 23–24.
The Soularium By Gunilla Norris – Friends Journal
Cultivating Inner Peace and Kindness – Everyone has many aspects or parts that have to find some way to be in one skin. Sometimes these aspects are in conflict, and we project on others the inner conflicts we have not resolved. For many it seems far easier to blame and judge than to take up the work of inner truth-telling and reconciliation. The other influence has come through sitting many Sunday mornings in the silence of a Quaker meeting. These influences have led me to a way that I have found very helpful. Aristotle said that the soul never thinks without an image. In fact, images are a way of thinking. An image can convey a great deal—hence the saying: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” I would add that a realized, integrated feeling is worth a thousand pictures. Ultimately inner peace is a state of being—not a thought and not a picture. It is embodied grace. Continue Reading
An Experiment in Sharing About Quaker Worship – By Bruce Bichard
During the past few years, and particularly since the pandemic began, members of the Worship and Ministry Committee of Central Philadelphia Meeting began hearing from Friends about their concerns regarding the quality of worship. It seemed that many people were treating our worship time as an opportunity to report on their latest “news.” We on the Worship and Ministry Committee shared these concerns, and we began considering what we might do to help people better understand the spiritual grounding of Friends worship: that we enter into silence in order to listen for the “voice” of the Spirit, or God, or the Inner Light. The first idea was to hold a special program on Quaker worship. But the problem with that approach, we agreed, was that the people who needed some help in reaching a better understanding of our worship experience were the least likely to attend such a program. Another concern was that we did not want to suggest that there is only one way to enter and participate in true Quaker worship, for we know that Friends follow different paths. So we came up with the idea of having a series of seasoned Friends each take a turn to describe their own experience and understanding of Friends worship at the start of actual Sunday meetings for worship over a period of several months. Read More: Friends Journal
Seasonal Quakerisms – By Annie Bingham
The first time I managed to sink deep into the silence and come bobbing back up with a message, I was standing around the fire circle closing my seventh year returning to Friends Camp. I remember something like a toad crawling up my throat, then leaping out into the fire with a cough, and then I was speaking. I shared with my counselors and fellow campers that camp had been an opportunity each year to dislodge myself from expectations, and remember who I love to be, and try out being that. The drive home was streaked with tears, and in September I tucked myself into a school desk again and wondered what wholeness had failed to follow me there. By now, I had made a few close friends at home, and had brought them along to see what Friends Camp was about, in order to show them what I was about. In our off-season of September through June, we sat there in individual desks divided by classroom walls, missing camp together. In search of year-round wholeness, my friends and I tried to trace the essence of Friends Camp. Yes, we were gathered in a mass of humans our age every day of the week at school, but no, it did not ignite that same sense of community. Were our classmates just worse community members than our cabin mates? But then, there was no quality assurance check for becoming a Friends Camp camper, so clearly something organizational was at play in both places that evoked something different from the people in them. The word Friend was our trail, and through it we found our local Friends meeting. Read More: Friends Journal
Speaking Spirit’s Words – By Gabriel Ehri
I’ve been a Quaker nearly all my life, and in attending dozens of different Quaker meetings for worship, most but not all of them “unprogrammed,” I feel fortunate to have experienced many varieties of vocal ministry. I wish I could remember all of the messages offered to my ears in the worship we shared! But I don’t think I’ll ever forget the way it felt the first time that I, myself, was moved to speak. Read More: Friends Journal
Sharing Thoughts on Evil (Gunilla Norris):
During worship David Madden told of his musings regarding evil. At reflection time some of us shared our thoughts. I spoke about the fact that behind horrific acts there is always a long history of abuse, injustice and hopelessness. At least doing something hateful mitigates those undigested feelings for a moment. But the hatred goes on. Can we have compassion for violence that might have been engendered hundreds of years ago. When Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and destroyed every man, woman and child we might remember that Jericho was in Gaza.What was once vulnerable and then repeatedly struck is devastated. We are all vulnerable and embedded in the long time griefs of our aching world. Only hearts can mend a broken heart.
Sharing a Poem (Gunilla Norris)