Articles & News

Morning Thoughts

Friends Journal - Fri, 09/01/2017 - 12:55am
Photo © Jo Ann Snover   A songbird awakens the morning just outside, where the fusion of light unfurling through green branches creates curious arching🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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Categories: Articles & News

Trust

Friends Journal - Fri, 09/01/2017 - 12:50am

He has been instructed to take shelter under his mother’s cloak
and leans on the dark of her presence
listening to the vanished spray and rain outside and the occasional shout.
The dark has become solid and is no longer open jagged night,
and his sister is somewhere on the other side.
They will not know much about it
if disaster strike—
“Mum, Mum” in Arabic
and then their mouths stopped with dark.

There is no comparison, no, no comparison with my experience.

Yes, it would be obscene to make comparison even though
there were hundreds of us sleeping on the deck
of that fragile Greek ferry fifty years ago
listening to the ancient engine
pumping the distance. But,
no, there is no comparison,
don’t try.

I am. Be not afraid.” His cloak put aside,
the waves and the wind died down as he spoke to them—
so the texts say,
and their shudderings also died down.
“What manner of man is this?”
they would ask later. What father-mother,
woman-man?
What I am?

But, no, trust makes no comparison.
I too am making a journey,
that is all, I too wait in dark, listening to outside rain,
I too will not know much about it
when disaster strike.

I too am a migrant.

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Categories: Articles & News

Seeing Truth

Friends Journal - Fri, 09/01/2017 - 12:45am
It’s true, things stick to the north side of trees— moss, lichen, snow . . . Along Old Pine Hill tree trunks caked in clean snow form a🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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Categories: Articles & News

100 Years of Quiet Tenacity

Friends Journal - Fri, 09/01/2017 - 12:40am
Friends of Fairhope, Alabama

The Quaker community in Monteverde, Costa Rica is widely known. But did you know that the group made its exodus from a meeting in the small town of Fairhope in coastal Alabama, with but a few Friends remaining behind to continue on as Fairhope Friends?

As Fairhope Friends approach our hundredth anniversary, we would like to share some of our less well-known stories of those who left and those who stayed behind.

It seems unlikely that in the early 1900’s Quakers from various states would settle in a tiny village on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay in coastal Alabama. But Quakers by nature are an unlikely group.

Drawn by the mild climate, cheap land, and an interesting tax base, Quakers migrated to Fairhope from Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana, North Carolina and Kansas.

Fairhope, Alabama, was established in 1894 as a single tax colony by a group from Des Moines, Iowa, (the only other remaining single tax colony is in Arden, Delaware) and was loosely based on the single tax theories of economist, journalist and social reformer Henry George, author of Progress and Poverty (1879). Land was purchased in the name of the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation and then leased under a 99 year renewable lease; ownership of improvements on the land belongs to the lessee.

The monies paid to the Single Tax Corporation by lessees include state, county and local taxes (thus the name Single Tax), an administration fee, and a “demonstration fee”, intended to demonstrate the usefulness of the single tax theory.

Today about 4,500 acres of land which includes the downtown area and a little less than half of the remainder of the city is owned by the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation and leased out to individuals and businesses. Funds from the demonstration fee continue to be used to enhance the community by supporting such things as 63 acres of parks overlooking Mobile Bay, a 43 acre city nature park, funding for improving the local emergency room, the historical museum, and improvements to roads and sidewalks.

In 1908 there were about 500 total residents in Fairhope. By 1915 there were 20 Quaker families living there. As early Quakers were wont to do, in 1916 they began by building a one room school house that was also used for meetings for worship.

Initially the Quakers in Fairhope met under the care of the Stillwater Meeting in Barnesville, Ohio; in 1919 the group became the Fairhope (Ala.) Meeting of Ohio Yearly Meeting with 52 members recorded. At that point, the meetinghouse, next to the school, had been completed at a cost of $1,346.65 plus $100 cost for the benches, and a cemetery was established on single tax land set aside from the Herman Battey family’s 80 acre dairy farm.

The meeting continued to grow, and their members set deep roots in the community, building farms, working in various professions, and raising their families.

 

But then Congress passed the Draft Law of 1948. On October 26, 1948, Marvin Rockwell sent written notice to the Local Draft Board in Foley, Alabama, advising of his noncompliance by refusal to register on religious grounds, and in December, 1948, four young Fairhope Friends were arrested. Each entered a plea of nolo contendere for refusal to register for the draft and presented written statement to U.S. District Court Judge McDuffie in Mobile. The Court records reflect that the Clerk read the statement of Marvin Rockwell because it was “a short one:”

I cannot imagine Christ in a military uniform taking training in the art of murder. I do not believe He would give His support to a program which forced the cream of young manhood to learn to take part in war.

Judge McDuffie’s comments at sentencing included these:

This is a government of laws and not of men, and so long as you live here, you should abide by the laws of the land … those who oppose the laws of this country and this form of government, even when it goes to war, should get out of this country and stay out.

Now I was wondering what some of you would do, if you were sitting in my place, having sworn to administer the law. There is nothing in the world I can do but sentence you.

Judge McDuffie then sentenced Wilford Guindon, Howard Rockwell, Leonard Rockwell, and Marvin Rockwell to prison for one year and one day, eligible for parole at the end of four months. He concluded, “I have done my duty by my dim lights…”

The four young Friends were taken to the Mobile county jail and later transferred to the Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee, FL, where they served four months and one day. When they were released on parole on February 27, 1950, they again refused to sign their draft registration cards; the Warden of the prison signed the cards for each of the four Friends so they would not be subject to immediate rearrest.

Back in Fairhope, the four rejoined the active young people’s Discussion Group affiliated with the Fairhope Meeting. The four were obligated to stay in Alabama until they completed their parole on October 26, 1950, and during this next eight months, deep personal and spiritual issues were addressed in the small Quaker meetinghouse and many Quaker homes. Individual lives, as well as the life of their Quaker community, had experienced the imprisonment of their young men for refusal to take any part in the military draft, and they had viscerally felt the use of their taxes to support a war economy. These issues were raised against the backdrop of the reality that Fairhope was home. Fairhope was where their families and friends lived; here they had built their homes, their children were born, their loved ones were buried. In this little corner of southeast Alabama, they had worked long and hard to create a stable life by creating farms and developing businesses,

Fairhope Friends were facing the same dilemma presented to Friends in England in the mid-1600’s – leave your country to build a new world of religious freedom or remain to work for religious freedom in your home country. A number of families from the meeting came to believe they should, as the Judge suggested, “get out of this country and stay out…” Not all of the members of the meeting came to the same conclusion; some would stay, in the belief that here they could better work for and influence a change of the system. Unfortunately, those gleaning sessions were not reported; it is easy to imagine the difficulty individuals experienced in reaching a decision best for their specific circumstances.

For those who would leave, the next question was – where to go? Canada was a consideration, but the climate there was too cold. (Remember they moved to Fairhope to get out of the snow.) They decided against Australia and New Zealand because of the distance and expense to return to visit family and friends. The group began to focus on Central America, and finally decided on Costa Rica where the government was stable, the economy sound, the poor were not as poor and the rich were not as rich, there was a large middle class, and the people were friendly. It was a pivotal point that Costa Rica had abolished its Army by Constitutional Amendment in 1947.

The records showed 62 members of the meeting on July 12, 1950, and children attended the single-teacher Quaker School adjacent to the meetinghouse. When the parole of the four expired on October 26, 1950, many Quakers in Baldwin County began to make the move to Costa Rica. Those who left in the first wave numbered thirty-one. Early in 1951, there were 44 who had moved. Ages of those moving ranged from 2 years to 80.

The group bought 3,500 acres on the side of a mountain for $50,000 U.S. The location was both beautiful and remote. Their new home was 16 miles from an all-weather road. There was a dry weather jeep road within seven to eight miles from their land; the rest was an ox cart road.

There on the side of a mountain in Central America, Quakers from Fairhope, Alabama, cleared new ground and began again – building a school for their children, creating farm and pasture lands, a dairy business, and constructing a new community in a country in which it was unconstitutional for the Army to even exist. It was the Quakers from Fairhope who founded Monteverde and set aside for conservation land that would become an initial tract in the internationally recognized Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. The Monteverde Quaker community became more active and widely known than its birthplace, Fairhope Friends.

The decision to leave for Costa Rica was not sponsored by the Fairhope Meeting but was individual action by each of those making that choice. The minutes of the meeting are intriguingly silent about the discernments, discussions, and clearness sought over the issue of so many leaving their homes and country. There are only a few oblique references in the Minutes to this huge upheaval in the meeting community. For example, on November 15, 1950:

Since our present Treasurer is likely to leave us before the regular time for appointing another, the meeting is united in appointing Roy Rockwell to fill the unexpired time… Since our present recorder is soon to leave us, this meeting unites in appointing Isabella Battey to fill the vacancy.

After the mass exodus to Costa Rica, the small group that remained in Fairhope continued on, though times were rough. The school was closed and the building sold, moved to adjoining property to be used as a residence. Bertha Battey, a longtime clerk, said, “From time to time, Fairhope Meeting consisted of three elderly women.” On May 8, 1966, Fairhope Friends sent a letter to the Ohio’s Stillwater Quarterly Meeting that said in part “Due to more reduced active membership … our monthly meeting has been discontinued indefinitely… We appreciate your concern in the past and will appreciate your prayers for a better future.” That better future began soon.

Because of the tenacity of the few who continued informally in the small meetinghouse, Fairhope Friends formally began again on November 24, 1967, as Fairhope Meeting Independent. Although it has not rebuilt its earlier membership numbers, it is a strong presence in the community. Each week we gather in the meetinghouse built in 1917, to sit on hand-made benches that cost $100 for materials 100 years ago. Though updated, the meetinghouse is much the same. Fairhope Friends remains Independent, and we continue to use the Friends’ Cemetery as a final resting place for loved ones.

While those who moved to Costa Rica recreated a farming life on a blank, rough-hewed slate, the Quakers who remained in Fairhope have experienced very different challenges in an evolving secular community. Monteverde and Fairhope are each the reflection of difficult and well-grounded decisions. Both meetings provide salt to their respective communities; each strives to remain in the Light, to listen for God. Fairhope Friends contribute financially to Monteverde; some of our members lived in Monteverde at one time, and though they have returned to Fairhope, they have relatives in Monteverde. You will find many of the same family names on the headstones in our respective cemeteries.

In the years following the great migration in the 1950’s to Costa Rica, the makeup of Fairhope Friends has changed to reflect a typical slice of modern Baldwin County. Most of the current members are convinced Quakers; a minority are birth-right Quakers. In the winter, the number attending swells as snowbirds from states such as Ohio, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New York migrate to the warm climate. The old meetinghouse remains much the same, with the original simple wooden pews, but with central heat and air conditioning added for comfort.

As an example of the vitality of this small group, as well as a willingness to listen and act, a Friend recently asked that the meeting consider a minute recognizing and honoring LGBTQ individuals. The Clerk asked that person to work with several others to draft and distribute a proposal. At the following meeting for business, a proposal was deeply considered; it was the sense of the meeting to adopt the minute. And then the group moved on—in one meeting for business that lasted one hour.

Fairhope is a bit of an enclave in the Deep South, more like Boulder, Colorado, than its neighbor, Mobile, Alabama. In some ways, we are as isolated as the Monteverde Friends. Southern Quakers is almost an oxymoron. Those of us who are isolated need to look further than the QuakerFinder.com search limit of 100 miles. From Fairhope, the closest meeting to the east is Tallahassee, Florida, 243 miles away. There is Birmingham, Alabama, 290 miles to the north and Huntsville, Alabama, 310 miles away (the only other Quaker meetings in the state of Alabama). There is a meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, which is a 165 mile drive and another in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 220 miles to our west.

In our own ways, Fairhope Friends respond to the same quiet nudge that propelled part of our group to Costa Rica. Some of our members live in the Fairhope area to be a part of this meeting; people who were drawn to Fairhope for other reasons have found their way to us. One of our members regularly makes a 140 mile round-trip to meeting. Perhaps we are like the loam that slowly accumulates at the base of the ancient red woods — worth that is not to be measured in standard units of size or time.

The post 100 Years of Quiet Tenacity appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

Wild Birds, Fantasy, and the Possible

Friends Journal - Fri, 09/01/2017 - 12:20am

© Maia Dery

Wild Birds

I begin in memory, impression: images and stories.

A boy approaching adolescence—shy, bookish, growing up in south Florida’s perpetual summer—inaugurates a life-long wonderment with wild birds, spending his free hours perched in ficus and Brazilian pepper trees, watching for warblers and cuckoos. He lives in a lush, tropical place, ten miles from the eastern edge of the Everglades, the wide and sluggish river of grass that flows from the southern margin of Lake Okeechobee ever-so-slightly-down the bottom of Florida into the Gulf of Mexico. Even the names of the birds there tattoo mysterious rhythms into his head: anhinga and ani, egret and heron, flamingo and spoonbill, ibis and bittern, limpkin and gallinule.

With paper route and lawn-mowing money, the boy buys his first pair of binoculars from Sears and his first bird book, Roger Tory Peterson’s A Field Guide to the Birds: Eastern Land and Water Birds, the 1947 second revised and enlarged edition, sponsored by the National Audubon Society, printed on heavy paper with rain-resistant covers. When he goes shopping for blue jeans, he brings the field guide along, checking to see that it snugs in the back pocket. He begins keeping his Life List in the front of his Peterson’s, especially proud of the following entries:

  • Marsh Hawk 1/8/1975
  • Bald Eagle 3/19/1972?
  • Everglade Kite 12/10/1972
  • Pileated Woodpecker 1/10/1976

He finds the first sentence of Peterson’s appendix on “Accidentals” mesmerizing: “The great hope of every field man is to see rare birds.” Before long, he will record a few Life List names in the blanks under the “Accidentals, Strays, and Others” heading:

  • Bahama Swallowtail and Bahama Bananaquit, Andros Island, Bahamas, 6/17 to 6/30/1973
  • Scarlet Ibis, Greynolds Park, 6/8/1974

The boy has a recurring dream. In this dream, he can will himself skyward, moving his arms up and then down, firmly but not frantically, in all sorts of Technicolor locales, and he glides over buildings and trees, swooping down from high places and catching an updraft, swimming in air as he can in the water, where he actually spends much of his time.

 

He reads what will become one of the favorite books of his youth, a novel by Jean Craighead George called My Side of the Mountain. It tells the story of Sam Gribley, a boy about his age, who runs away from a cramped and congested New York City to his great-grandfather’s abandoned farm property in the Catskills and makes his home there in a hollow tree. Sam captures a peregrine falcon nestling, names it “Frightful,” and trains the bird to hunt small game for him. He befriends a weasel that he christens “the Baron.” Eventually, Sam abandons the woods to come home to New York, realizing he needs human contact.

 

He studies a book given to him for Christmas one year, Survival with Style by Bradford Angier, festooned with drawings of how to erect shelters and descriptions of how to collect condensation in the desert. It includes a section on wild, edible plants. One day, the boy rides his bicycle west to the edge of the river of grass and sets a temporary camp at the side of a canal. He gathers cattail roots to roast and, with a hook, makeshift pole and line, he catches a bream. Lighting a small fire with flint and steel, he cooks and eats the fish and cattail, the latter of which tastes a lot like muddy canal. After of couple of hours, he climbs back on his bike and heads home for dinner.

 

The boy’s eighth-grade English teacher—who one Friday afternoon in spring reads aloud “The Scarlet Ibis,” James Hurst’s sentimental story about sibling rivalry, a rare bird, and mortality—encourages his experiments in verse and tells him he can become a great poet. He falls in love with the idea of being hailed as the next John Keats, but he does not find himself compelled to be actually writing. The lure of imagined fame occludes the tangible act that might produce it.

 

In the summer of his junior year in high school, his former eighth-grade science teacher, Miss Kicklighter, calls on a Saturday morning to tell him that Scarlet Ibises are nesting at Greynolds Park. He borrows his parents’ car, drives to North Miami Beach with a friend, and meets Miss Kicklighter there to witness spectacular, deep red birds swaying in green mangroves. Like the bird in the short story, these ibises are far from their usual home in the Caribbean and South America. Accidentals.

Fantasy

Such stories trace the imaginative topography of my growing up, a landscape perhaps more featured with desire than accomplishment.

Fast-forward thirty-three years. I’m preparing to go with a group of Guilford College students on a three-week van camping excursion around California, teamed up with a colleague who’s teaching the course entitled “The American Landscape.” We’re reading about the history of landscape painting and photography, how they shaped American environmental consciousness, and we’ll be taking photographs of iconic landscapes in the Sierras, Mono Lake, Yosemite, and along the Pacific Coast. Prior to our departure, we’re down at the Guilford Lake, and my photographer colleague is teaching us how to see with a camera lens. I keep trying to get pictures of a flitting Eastern Towhee with my point-and-shoot. I’m ill-equipped and impatient, and the bird is too fast and too far away. I show my colleague Maia the results. She says: “You want what you can’t have, don’t you?”

 

Reflecting back on all this now, I wonder if the two most besetting sins of my life have been a lack of patience and a tendency to dream the muddled impossibility, to indulge in that truancy of the imagination twentieth-century British novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch calls “fantasy.” For Murdoch, such fantasy takes multiple forms, but her fiction testifies mainly to its witchery in realm of human love. In The Sea, The Sea, her 1978 Booker Prize-winning novel, for example, the narrator, Charles Arrowby, a formerly-famed theater director who has retired to a remote ocean-side village, begins to realize how his completely unrealistic attempts to rekindle a relationship with Hartley, his first and truest love, are leading him into emotional paralysis:

Some kinds of obsession, of which being in love is one, paralyse the ordinary free-wheeling of the mind, its natural open interested curious mode of being, which is sometimes persuasively defined as rationality. I was sane enough to know that I was in a state of total obsession and that I could only think, over and over again, certain agonizing thoughts, could only run continually along the same rat-paths of fantasy and intent. But I was not sane enough to interrupt this mechanical movement or even desire to do so.

In a philosophical study, Murdoch echoes this fictional character, claiming that

The chief enemy of excellence in morality (and also in art) is personal fantasy: the tissue of self-aggrandizing and consoling wishes and dreams which prevents one from seeing what is there outside one.

“Almost anything that consoles us is a fake,” she says. Whoosh: there goes every rom com I ever loved. There goes Pride and Prejudice. There goes chocolate.

Murdoch’s call to reject the consolation of fantasy may seem a bitter physic, but she isn’t rejecting human imagination itself, only certain pernicious forms in which it depletes our capacity to engage fully and honestly with the world and other beings. For her, love is the imagination’s poison, but it is also its best medicine. For although love can lead us into the temptations of fantasy, it can also propel us into ethical, possible, real care for others, who exist outside what Murdoch calls “the fat, relentless ego.” Her picture of the ego unleashed as a bloated, self-absorbed Jabba the Hut is not a pretty one, but it helps me to recognize in it a certain resemblance to a boy dreaming of wilderness survival or poetic greatness while not expecting to do anything much to earn it. To manage that admittedly ravenous ego well, however, becomes the key to a radical acknowledgement of the claims of the other, which for some thinkers is the core of becoming ethical. To make charitable, not egocentric, love the first motion (to paraphrase John Woolman) is to embark on the ethical path.

Murdoch’s ideas about love, the ego, consolation, and attention—she also talks about paying attention as a mechanism for counteracting illusion (Sovereignty of the Good)—recall the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, the practice of focusing in the present and filtering out illusion and other forms of wishful thinking. If, as Thomas Lowe Fleischner says, in an essay about mindfulness and keen observation of the natural world, “we are what we pay attention to” (9), then keeping our attention focused on the possible, in the here and now, seems like a very good thing to be doing. Mindfulness, akin to what Quakers call being “centered,” trains our attention away from fantasy. We could call it the practice of keeping it real, of tending the possible.

The possible

Becoming centered challenges me to reject romanticized fantasy, to do something more complex and paradoxical. It calls me to live imaginatively in what is possible, in fervent desire for what I and the world can indeed become. I cannot simply sit back and accept everything before me as what is meant to be; nor can I wallow in longing for that which will never come to pass. The same is true for love as for social justice. Neither is possible without reimagining the present into something different and new; neither will come into being without such striving remaining tied at all four corners to what is possible. I could photograph wild birds quite well, but it would take the patience of sitting in a blind, hour upon hour, watching, waiting, and letting things be as they are. I am a writer only when I adopt the discipline of daily composition, the practice that scratches down the furrows into which seed words may fall.

 

On or around December 1, 2015, a strange bird showed up amidst the ordinary flock of Canada Geese that keep cropped the front lawns of the college campus where I work and decorate our brick walkways with greenish leavings. It was an accidental, a Ross’s Goose, a large white bird with black wing tips about the size of the Muscovy ducks that plod about the quad occasionally. The Ross’s Goose caused a minor sensation in the local birding community. Sometimes they show up in the very northeastern corner of North Carolina, but their main migration routes lie hundreds of miles to the west, down from Canada through the plains states to the Gulf coast of Texas and farther west through Montana and Idaho to California and Mexico for the winter. In Greensboro, North Carolina, this was a rare bird indeed.

That accidental and absolutely real goose reminded me that rare things, while unusual, are possible, and that to conceive of myself or the world as better—without resorting to fantasy—is a good and rightful thing to do. It reminds me today that to work mindfully towards the betterment of all lives, human and non-human, can keep me tending toward the center. The Ross’s Goose stayed around the campus and nearby ponds for about a week and a half. More than a few birders dropped over to watch it picking the lawn with Canadian cousins. And then, as is the way in this world, it was gone.

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Categories: Articles & News

Earthcare: Finding God in the Garden

Friends Journal - Fri, 09/01/2017 - 12:10am

All photos taken in Katie and Phil’s garden. Courtesy of the author.

My mother had a green thumb. She could look at a plant and it would grow strong and bloom. All year long, Mother had flowering potted plants. Our house was on a corner of a suburban neighborhood, and in the summer people used to take the corner slowly in order to admire the colorful flowers.

I appreciate flower gardens, but I don’t have my mother’s chemistry with plants. My husband, Phil, however, does. He grew up in Manhattan, and, as an urban transplant, he takes great joy in his rural Massachusetts garden. We used to grow vegetables, but as time went by, we found that supporting the local farmers was more cost efficient. We switched to flowers, saying they were food for the soul. Phil enjoys working in the garden more than I do, but we both like to be outside. We enjoy many summer activities together, and attending New England Yearly Meeting’s annual sessions is a yearly event that nourishes us both.

I have had the opportunity to lead several workshops with Friends and other groups. As a storyteller, I especially like workshops that elicit stories of early memories about religion, prayer, and spirituality. When I’ve asked Quakers where they have felt close to God, I often hear Friends talk about a favorite place. As Friends, we know that we can have a relationship with God anywhere and anytime. We are less apt to identify a building as a holy place, or as “God’s house.” Often, when I’ve asked Friends to talk about where they feel closest to God, many name places in the natural world. They speak of the peace they feel by the seashore or in the mountains or the forest.

I am the same. I love the natural world. I’ve been fortunate, and I count my blessings. I can look out of the windows in my home in central Massachusetts and see the garden embraced by woods. Working in the garden takes my mind away from daily troubles, and I love seeing the results of my labor, but I feel more at peace when I look past the garden into the woods. God is the gardener for the woods.

The summers are becoming hotter. Sometimes there can be no rain for as long as two weeks. Last summer we had a drought, and by August the trees actually looked thirsty. There were several days when the air was still, the sun was hot, and predicted thunderstorms did not come.

A garden needs care even when it’s very hot. Phil and I wiped the sweat from our brows as we ripped out invasive forget-me-nots and talked about climate change. We wondered how the meager changes we’ve made in our household might help to save the earth for future generations.

Thinking about climate change can be depressing. When Friends tell me that in 30 years Manhattan will be flooded, or when I see photographs of polar bears on shrinking ice floes, it brings tears to my eyes. We write letters, make phone calls to legislators. We recycle, and take care to walk softly on the earth. More and more it seems that prayer and community are essential to the survival of life as we know it. Like many other Friends, we struggle not to be immobilized.

Working in the earth keeps Phil and me grounded. (The pun is intended.)

Last summer, as we were working in the garden, a slight breeze refreshed us. We took a break from our work, and I sat on the deck with a glass of iced tea. A hummingbird visited one of the flower boxes on the deck’s railing. I heard the familiar whirring sound of her wings. She perched, actually landed, on a red nicotiana five feet away from me, and she made a quiet joyful chirp! Then I heard her sip from the trumpet shaped flower. The slightly audible slurp sounded like a child with a straw, greedily enjoying the last drops of a milkshake.

Nature does not perform for us. The mysteries and miracles of life present themselves in unexpected ways. That summer afternoon, as I sat in silence, I heard two sounds that I had never heard before: the voice of a hummingbird and the lusty slurp as the tiny bird took nectar from the flower. I believe these small sounds reflect the joy and the miracle of the interdependence of life. This is God. Just by recalling the experience as I write, I feel refreshed and renewed. I was comforted that hot afternoon by the still, small voice that is available to us.

When I returned to the garden later that afternoon, I gave thanks for those plants that fellow gardeners had shared with us: columbine from Ginny, lily of the valley from Mike, lungwort from Renee, hydrangea from Pat, red daylilies from Tom and Riva, foam flowers from Suze, tall grass from Gerry, red dahlias from Barbara, and most recently, daisies from M.L. How can tending the garden feel like a tiresome chore when I am surrounded by f/Friends?

Every plant in a garden thrives because of the care of the gardeners. Friendships, like gardens, need care and maintenance. Let us make time to be fully present each moment—to attend to each other and to find joy in daily life.

My mother’s garden had a metal garden ornament that now has a place in ours. The once colorful paint on the picture has faded, and most of it has chipped away, but the words are still present:

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on the earth.

The post Earthcare: Finding God in the Garden appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

News, September 2017

Friends Journal - Fri, 09/01/2017 - 12:05am
New U.S. yearly meeting formed Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting (SCYM), a new Christ-centered, LGBTQ+ inclusive yearly meeting in the Pacific Northwest, was established on July 27, during annual sessions of Northwest Yearly Meeting (NWYM) in Newberg, Ore., by Friends of four monthly meetings departing from NWYM as a result of its split announced earlier this year. As reported in the April 2017 issue News column of Friends Journal, NWYM has been contending with differing approaches to sexuality and gender among its monthly meetings since 2015. At that🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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Categories: Articles & News

The Fearless Benjamin Lay: The Quaker Dwarf Who Became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist

Friends Journal - Thu, 08/31/2017 - 11:30pm
By Marcus Rediker. Beacon Press, 2017. 194 pages. $26.95/hardcover; $25.99/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

Should readers choose to read this compelling biography—and those who see this review are hereby forewarned not to deny themselves that experience—they should approach it carefully, wearing asbestos gloves. It glows red hot, both in subject matter and its author’s approach.

Let’s deal with the author first. Not a Friend, Marcus Rediker is distinguished professor of Atlantic history at the University of Pittsburgh and an authority on slavery. But more important for our purposes, he follows the late British historian Christopher Hill, best known among Friends as author of the groundbreaking The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas during the English Revolution. Hill depicted Quakers at the cutting edge of demands for upending the established order during the revolutionary period from the 1640s to 1660. Rediker picks up this stance and insists that the eighteenth-century Lay patterned his opposition to racial slavery after those early Friends and insisted that his contemporaries live up to the unfiltered Light implicit in their religion. Modern Friends seldom hear jeremiads like Lay’s in their meetings these days. Rediker’s work implies that we should.

Born in England in 1682, Lay was a third-generation Friend, a hunchback “little person” or dwarf a bit over four feet tall, and an “antinomian” in theology. (Antinomianism is the concept that a Christian, freed of sin by Christ’s grace, is not bound by outward laws; early Friends styled them “ranters,” a term applied to James Nayler, one of George Fox’s closest associates.) For a dozen years after 1703, Lay alternated between working as a sailor and living ashore in London and Barbados. At sea he observed the slave trade and its effects on both Africans and sailors; on land he regularly attending meeting and learned to distrust the ministry of the Society’s leading “Public Friends.” He publicly attacked such ministers, who were, he claimed, “preaching in their own words,” not God’s truth. When he would not promise to cease such affronts and be “tender” and “lowly,” Devonshire House Meeting disowned him.

In 1732, Lay and his wife, Sarah, moved to Philadelphia, Pa., with a certificate of removal because Devonshire House Meeting had finally accepted his apology, but that did not prevent controversy from lurking over the Lays’ credibility. The situation worsened because Benjamin unleashed diatribes against powerful Friends for owning slaves. He also embarked on tactics of what later generations would called guerilla theater: once in winter he stood at the meetinghouse door with his bare foot in the snow outside; when warned that he would catch his death of cold, he responded that slaves Quakers owned had no shoes at all. Two years after the Lays arrived, Philadelphia Monthly Meeting found obstructions with their transfer of membership and revoked it.

But Lay would not be silenced by the mere absence of membership, so, because Quaker meetings were open to all, he turned up again and again. In 1738, he appeared at one of the sessions of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting itself, dressed in a great coat covering a military uniform, a sword, and a hollowed-out book resembling a Bible with a bladder of red pokeberry juice hidden inside. Rising to address this gathering of weighty and politically powerful Friends, he exclaimed that God was no respecter of persons and that slave-keeping was the world’s greatest sin. He ripped aside his coat, pulled out his sword, stabbed it through the book, spattering blood-like liquid among the assembled worthies, and boomed out that thus “God [would] shed the blood of those persons who enslave[d] their fellow creatures.” The same year, printer Benjamin Franklin published Lay’s book, All Slave-Keepers that Keep the Innocent in Bondage, Apostates.

Lay’s radicalism shaded over into vegetarianism, and he championed animals, cave dwelling in the last years of his life, and making his own clothes. As he defended enslaved Africans, so he stood staunchly against the power of wealth and the influence of property among Friends. No wonder Abington Meeting, it seems, also disowned him. Although it is unclear when and how Lay joined another meeting after having been read out of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, there must have been some evidence that Lay did just that. Rediker’s readable, well-researched biography should go a long way to reintroduce this red-hot Quaker to a new generation of Friends, unaccustomed to such levels of warmth in those they know.

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Categories: Articles & News

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America

Friends Journal - Thu, 08/31/2017 - 11:25pm
By Michael Eric Dyson. St. Martin’s Press, 2017. 228 pages. $24.99/hardcover; $11.99/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

Michael Eric Dyson earned his PhD in 1993, but had been ordained as a Baptist preacher 16 years earlier at the age of 19. Tears We Cannot Stop calls heavily on his preaching skills, as he explains early on in the book:

I don’t want to—really, I can’t afford to—give up on the possibility that white America can definitively, finally, hear from one black American preacher a plea, a cry, a sermon, from my heart to yours. If you’re interested in my social analysis and my scholarly reflections on race, I’ve written plenty of other books for you to read. I tried to make this book one of them, but in the end, I couldn’t . . . What I need to say can only be said as a sermon.

Dyson surrounds the sermon with all the standard elements of a Protestant church service: call to worship, hymns of praise, invocation, scripture reading, benediction, offering plate, prelude to service, and closing prayer. The hymns are drawn from music of modern artists such as KRS-One, Lauryn Hill, Tupac Shakur, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, and Kendrick Lamar. He also uses their work as part of a social justice course he teaches at Georgetown University. The scripture readings are from the writings of Martin Luther King Jr.

The preacher begins his sermon by talking about whiteness—not as a biological reality, but as a designation of that part of society with power and privilege over those who are not regarded as white. He notes, “the paradox is that even though whiteness is not real it is still true. I mean true as a force to be reckoned with.” He illustrates the power of whiteness with stories from his own life and recent events such as the Rodney King and O.J. Simpson verdicts.

He next addresses five dysfunctional ways that those regarded as white respond when confronted with the reality that whiteness is simultaneously artificial and powerful. One such response is willful ignorance of how whiteness has caused black suffering—for example, by means of employment discrimination, segregated and inferior housing and education, and racial profiling in the criminal justice system that makes life dangerous and expensive for many people of color and results in their mass incarceration. A second response is forgetting or dismissing the nation’s racist history and its present-day impact. A third is appropriating black culture without having to endure the oppression that helped form that culture. A fourth is historical revisionism—for example, with respect to the causes of the U.S. Civil War or the impact of slavery on the enslaved. The fifth is the dilution of black struggles by making white individuals the heroes of those struggles.

The sermon also describes dysfunctional ways that black people sometimes respond to white racism. Using examples from his own family, he shows how anti-black racism leads to colorism—the favoring of lighter skin over darker—among many people of color. Concerned with how law enforcement gives greater scrutiny and responds more harshly to black misconduct, some black people punish their own children harshly in an effort to prepare them for the world they will face.

The preacher/professor seeks to help white people find constructive responses to the pain (sometimes called “white fragility”) that they often feel when they come to understand the damage that whiteness inflicts on people of color. He describes how he helps his Georgetown University students of all ethnicities both to understand the pain of racism and to explore how best to respond to it.

The “Benediction” section offers a variety of constructive ways to respond. The author acknowledges that reparations is unlikely to be adopted as national policy, but offers practical suggestions on how individuals might do reparations on a personal basis. Individuals can engage black people to perform services for them and pay them slightly better or tip them more generously than normal. They can give scholarships to deserving black students that they know. He suggests establishing an I.R.A., an “Individual Reparations Account,” to fund creative efforts to support the education of individual black people.

Dyson provides an extensive bibliography that can educate us about black history, life, and culture. He encourages white readers who do become educated to educate other white people and become advocates for racial justice. He also recommends visiting black people in schools, jails, and churches. He believes these practices will lead to empathy for people formerly regarded as “other.” He concludes, “The siege of hate will not end until white folk imagine themselves as black folk—vulnerable despite our virtues.”

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Categories: Articles & News

What Have We Done: The Moral Injury of Our Longest Wars

Friends Journal - Thu, 08/31/2017 - 11:20pm
By David Wood. Little, Brown and Company, 2016. 291 pages. $28/hardcover; $14.99/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

“War is Hell.” —General William Tecumseh Sherman, 1879

War has probably existed as long as humankind has existed. And contrary to what some believe, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and moral injury have existed as well. There are records of Roman soldiers after 30 years of service becoming homeless, unable to fit into their culture. The Napoleonic wars have stories of veterans coming home with voices in their heads, committing suicide, and abusing spouses.

David Wood, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who has covered war for more than 35 years, has written a thoughtful book about the human cost of war from the soldier’s and the soldier’s family’s points of view. Wood is a compelling writer telling a grim tale about moral injury and its ripple effect in American society today thanks to the never-ending wars in the Middle East. But it is not a book for the fainthearted. He includes several graphic stories about war from men and women or their families who participated in the U.S. military. And a few from his own experience covering wars as a reporter.

His point of view, however, is not the usual “Rah, rah. They sacrificed so much. They are heroes.” In fact, he calls out that superficial patriotic support of members of the military for what it is: feel-good patriotism with no real support for the veterans and their families that still suffer from the actions the military takes in our names. In fact, although he’s no longer an active Friend, Wood’s Quaker upbringing peeks out from time to time in his writing—he comments early on about “paying for war” in a way that tips his hand. But it is primarily his journalism skills that shine through in this book, telling individual stories to illustrate various points.

To an extent, What Have We Done is a history of how moral injury became such a large part of the damage of war today. Wood discusses the history of changes in the training of members of the military so that they can kill without thought. And he talks about how that has resulted in an increase of moral injury. He follows the attempts of the military to “resolve” the problem as though, if they gave the right words to members of the military, the issues of PTSD and moral injury would go away or at least lessen to a manageable amount. But it is also a showcase of both the pain and heroism of members of the military and how those connect to each American:

Like it or not, fair or unfair, we are all connected by the wars.

Now what?

Let’s set aside the question of war itself. Like many others, I have considered the idea that killing and destruction are something we should never under any circumstances impose on others. . . . My earlier life as a Quaker and conscientious objector and my experience in war strongly tempt me in this direction. Yes, for a long time I found war captivating. But the man who writhed and bled and died in front of me long ago in a dusty village . . . reminds me it is not [thrilling and meaningful]. It is also true that in war I have seen individual acts of breathtaking generosity and quiet nobility. But from a larger perspective, it’s clear that good rarely comes out of war.

These are words that resonate with most Friends. We can see that we are connected to war and that good rarely comes out of war. But, “Now what?”

Wood does conclude the book with a solution. Not a solution for all mankind as so many books try to do, but a solution for this particular problem. The answer is very much the same as that of Friends and others working in this field: to listen.

Wood omits, however, a large part of that story: the work of Rita Nakashima Brock to bring the issues of moral injury to the faith community, which so often is the last refuge for those who are broken. In 2010 Brock led a “Truth Commission on Conscience in War” at Riverside Church in New York City, where I was honored to be one of many to speak about the harm of war to the people who fight them. She went on to write Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury after War in 2012 about the need for spiritual healing. She played a large role in the recognition of moral injury, but was never part of the military world and so was overlooked by many. She is the current senior vice president for moral injury programs at Volunteers of America. There are many who followed her lead to work with veterans in art, such as Tara Tappert at the Arts and the Military project at George Washington University and listening projects such as Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinity School in Texas, which trains ministers and others in how to listen to veterans to help them heal. Including this part of the story may well have cast a different light on the work of those of us who oppose war. We are people willing to help the warriors but not glorify the war.

Still, Wood gets it right: Don’t pretend to understand what the person has gone through. Admit that you will never completely understand but want to hear more. Don’t say you are sorry or glibly say, “Thank you for your service.” Don’t say it wasn’t worth it. Don’t judge. Just listen.

Listening was never for the faint of heart.

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Categories: Articles & News

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World

Friends Journal - Thu, 08/31/2017 - 11:15pm
By Peter Wohlleben. Greystone Books, 2016. 251 pages. $24.95/hardcover; $24.99/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

“After you’ve read Wohlleben’s book, a walk in the woods will never be the same.” That’s what it says on the cover of The Hidden Life of Trees, and it is so very true. I look at the woods that surround our home in Vermont and I recognize the intelligence that resides in the trees that are so bountiful. Did you know that during the winter pine trees insert anti-freeze into their needles so that the freezing temperatures don’t destroy those needles? Did you know that in some tree species the mother tree actually looks out for her offspring by nurturing and protecting them?

Wohlleben doesn’t anthropomorphize the lives of trees. Their intelligence is very different from ours. But they do have a form of intelligence. Each species has its own way of propagating and surviving hard times. Some even move to new locations. Wohlleben writes:

Trees can’t walk. Everyone knows that. Be that as it may, they need to hit the road somehow. But how can they do this without feet? The answer lies in the transition to the next generation. . . . Some species are in a big hurry. They equip their offspring with fine hairs so that they can drift off on the next wind, light as a feather. . . . [Some] enter into an alliance with the animal world. Mice, squirrels, and jays love oily, starchy seeds. They tuck them into the forest floor as winter provisions.

I was fascinated by the myriad of ways that trees have adapted to changing climate, human development, storms, and other big interferences with their habitat. But sometimes they succumb to those interferences. And sometimes, even with humans’ best intentions, they have to struggle to survive. It’s wonderful to have trees in our cities. But according to Wohlleben, they don’t reach their full potential since their roots are often struggling to grow in the compacted soil that surrounds them. Sometimes they don’t have the trees of the same species that they depend on in the forest. Therefore they’re “lonely,” not receiving the nurture and protections of their cousins like they would get in their natural environment.

Wohlleben spent 20 years working for the forestry commission in Germany. He now runs an environmentally friendly woodland, where he works for the return of primeval forest. His extraordinary knowledge of, love of, and respect for trees is evident in every page. I know that what I’ve learned from him will help me as I consider the care of the trees in our woods. I already felt a new camaraderie as I inspected our fruit trees today. I know I will feel a kinship with trees I never felt before.

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Categories: Articles & News

Discovering Humor in the Bible: An Explorer’s Guide

Friends Journal - Thu, 08/31/2017 - 11:10pm
By Howard R. Macy. Cascade Books, 2016. 140 pages. $19/paperback or eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

Quakers have a tradition dating back at least to the mid-twentieth century of writing gently comedic books. Jessamyn West filled her 1945 The Friendly Persuasion with homespun humor (think of Jess hiding the forbidden piano in his attic), and Elton Trueblood‘s 1964 The Humor of Christ brought laughter into the nonfiction world. More recent writers in the humorous Quaker vein include Philip Gulley and J. Brent Bill, among others—and now, Howard Macy with Discovering Humor in the Bible.

Macy expands Trueblood’s focus on comedy from Jesus to the entire Bible, finding ribaldry in stories that might not at first glance look laugh-out-loud funny, such as Sarah conceiving Isaac in her 90s, Tamar seducing her father-in-law, or—yes—the often grim book of Job.

Macy calls his book a “field guide,” similar to a guide for identifying birds, and by that he means he will describe cues that might indicate a Bible story is funny. These include “surprise,” “exaggeration,” and “imagining them smiling” (“them” being the writers and early hearers of the stories). Macy’s explanations are clear and laced with humor; he writes, for example, that “life insurance must cost [the risk-taking biblical court jester] a bundle.” As a bonus, his book happens to provide an apt outline of what bring out the laughs in any story, not just one from the Bible.

The book represents the Quaker comedic strain well, illustrating that homespun humor continues to thrive among Friends.

Before the nineteenth century, however, the prevailing voice in Quaker writing was both intense and sincere. George Fox wasn’t joking when he warned the Turks they would burn in hell, and John Woolman didn’t find rib-tickling humor in the plight of the American slave—nor did he treat his own possible enslavement at the hands of the Indians as a light-hearted comic caper.

Jane Eyre as “plain, Quakerish governess” typified much of the nineteenth-century British view of Friends, who’d gone from being painted as dangerous radicals to the “pure lilies” of Charles Lamb’s early nineteenth-century nostalgic essay “The Quakers’ Meeting.”

Nostalgia began to take over too in American non-Friends’ depictions of Quakers as representing the pure spirit of early Americans, presumably against the immigrants increasingly entering the country from places other than England. It’s not surprising that the nostalgia leaked into Friends’ own self-depictions and that the homespun humor of the modern Quaker fiction was born.

This brings us back to Macy’s book. The bulk of it indexes comic chapter and verse in different parts of the Bible, which Macy invites us to reread with new eyes. Macy includes humor in Genesis and Judges, Esther, the Prophets, the Wisdom books, stories about David and other Hebrew Bible favorites, and then moves into humorous stories from the New Testament.

As Macy generously notes, he’s not the first to detect comedy in Bible tales we tend to read as straight, yet his book serves as a useful reminder, in an age of Bible literalism, that the Bible is a grab bag of styles and genres, of the real and the fanciful, the poetic and the prosaic. It is a work of spiritually inspired art rather than a grimly literal history of God’s presence in the world. As Macy suggests, the authors of the Bible did understand metaphor, word play, and genre. As Dava Sobel points out in Galileo’s Daughter, even seventeenth-century Roman Catholic inquisitors knew that a reference to the four corners of the earth wasn’t meant to be taken literally. With the Bible still so much in a tug of war between those who read it as deadly serious literal truth and those who reject it too passionately, it’s good to have Macy’s reminder that we can all lighten up.

At the same time, as Macy notes, humor encompasses both the homespun and the sharply satiric—and thus maybe the sharply satiric, even if unsettling rather than domesticating, can find a home in Quaker writing. Friends Journal readers may also be interested in the 2016 Quakers and Literature, a collection of essays edited by James W. Hood and volume 3 in the series Quakers and the Disciplines, published by Friends Association for Higher Education (reviewed in the November 2016 issue of Friends Journal).

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Categories: Articles & News

Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy

Friends Journal - Thu, 08/31/2017 - 11:05pm
By Anne Lamott. Riverhead Books, 2017. 176 pages. $20/hardcover; $22/paperback; $10.99/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

“I’m not sure I even recognize the ever-presence of mercy anymore, the divine and the human: the messy, crippled, transforming, heartbreaking, lovely, devastating presence of mercy. But I have come to believe that I am starving to death for it, and my world is, too.”

Two guys are fixtures in my neighborhood. A handsome Jamaican, with a ready smile and warm greeting, sells me the New York Times every morning at my subway stop. I reward his industry with a big tip and get a fist bump in return.

The disabled panhandler on a nearby corner accosts everyone in reach of his electric scooter at any time of the day. His disposition is as sour as his face is pasty. No matter how often or how much I contribute, he reacts like I’m a giving machine.

First there’s love; then the love gets tougher.

Thus, Anne Lamott’s Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy is like a mirror in which I can view this charitable two-step. The prophet Micah’s query is her agony and ecstasy: “What doth God require of thee but to do justice and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God?”

The book consists of mountains—a trip to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, a young friend’s suicide, AA confessions, reports from the Hunger Project in Senegal; and molehills—fishing by her father’s side, experiments with tadpoles, shopping at Zoologie, envy of a colleague, a public speaking gaffe; with meditations in between—on Jonah, the prodigal son; Ruth, the good Samaritan; Lazarus, the thorn in Paul’s side; and the prostitute who gave Jesus water from a well.

Lamott hangs her hat on mercy, but her spiritual coat rack also displays sympathy, compassion, empathy, forgiveness, charity, kindness, and grace.

In nine short chapters, she packs more metaphoric punches than Muhammad Ali floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee. The beginning of the book is slow going until you get her prose poem’s rhythm and rhyme. Her narrative proceeds neither by chronology nor logic but by free association akin to Jung’s symbolism of everyday life rather than Freud’s dream analysis.

You can dip your toe anywhere in Lamott’s literary waters and feel in touch with the whole ocean of her thoughts. So moving are the author’s words that, by fining me for every tear I shed on Halleluah Anyway’s pages, my library could afford to build a new wing.

To say “I’m kidding” is to invoke one of Lamott’s principal rules: Every time you hit readers on the head with a weighty insight, relieve their burden with a joke about how to lose weight. In other words, one good metaphor begets another, even if her wisdom is as bittersweet as the darkest chocolate.

Try “What if we know that forgiveness and mercy are what heal and restore and define us, that they actually are the fragrance that the rose leaves on the heel that crushes it?” Or “My humility can kick your humility’s butt.” And how about “Trauma . . . seeps out of us as warnings of worse to come.” Another of my favorites: “I often recall the New Yorker cartoon of one dog saying to the other: ‘It’s not enough that we succeed. Cats must also fail.’”

Just as recited poetry resounds in the ear before making sense to the mind, Lamott often stumps us with her Zen-like koans. Reviewers have called her “an icon of blessed imperfection” bearing “a conflicted message for a conflicted world.” She responds, “I’m the world’s worst Christian.” (Now that’s humility!)

Quakers will respond favorably to the way she weaves together the sacred and the profane. Lamott doesn’t swear oaths because she’s a seeker more than a refuge-taker. She characterizes her sermons as “Jesusy”—a relief for those of us who are spiritual fellow travelers rather than innkeepers of the faith—and gains solace from nature and science. Her words won’t let you center down easily for worship nor will they fit comfortably in a catechism.

But Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Famous” serves as an epigraph: “The loud voice is famous to the silence, / which knew it would inherit the earth / before anybody said so.”

The author of Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith; Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith; Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith; and Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, Lamott keeps good company with such women seers as Maya Angelou, Julia Cameron, Edwidge Danticat, Annie Dillard, Shakti Gawain, Natalie Goldberg, Sue Monk Kidd, Maxine Hong Kingston, Caroline Myss, Nancy Mairs, Ann Patchett, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, and Marilynne Robinson. (I’m partial to the feminine mystique.)

However, she possesses a unique sense of humor that’s sharp as a razor and will make you cry as her epiphanies pour like rain on a desert of disbelief.

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Categories: Articles & News

New York Yearly Meeting: Quaker Education and Discourse

Friends United Meeting - Fri, 08/18/2017 - 3:12pm

Friends in New York Yearly Meeting are experimenting with a new form of sharing stories and ministries, called Quaker Education and Discourse. Here is how they describe the plan:

Each month in 2017, there will be one Saturday QuED event, each hosted by a monthly meeting in a different part of New York Yearly Meeting. The morning will include breakfast, worship, and several twenty-minute talks given by invited speakers. The afternoon will include lunch, very lightly structured conversation opportunities, and sometimes other things—workshops, spiritual direction, games, music, and so forth. The morning talks will be streamed live on Facebook live when wifi is available and recorded for later posting online.

Their most recent meeting, in July, was held at Adirondack Friends Meeting. The theme was telling stories about the experience of being called into ministry, and the three speakers were Shirley Way, Emily Provance, and Nancy Shippen. The speakers were all broadcast on Facebook Live, and the video of the conversation can be found on the QuED Facebook page.  

The next QuED event will be at Manhasset Friends Meeting on August 19th.

 

 

 

Categories: Articles & News

William Penn House seeks Program Coordinator

Friends United Meeting - Fri, 08/18/2017 - 1:44pm
William Penn House is seeking a Program Coordinator for their Service-Learning and Social Justice Education programs. William Penn House is a Quaker center for witness, education, service, and hospitality, centrally located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC.  Since 1966, they have supported peace and justice activism through hospitality, experiential social justice education programs, and public events. The program coordinator is responsible for the design, management, and facilitation of William Penn House’s social justice education and service-learning programs.  These programs engage youth (middle-school through college-aged) with social justice issues through hands-on, experiential activities and opportunities to build relationships with activists, community leaders, policy makers, and members of marginalized communities. For more information, see the full job description here.
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