Civility Can Be Dangerous

Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly) - Wed, 08/15/2018 - 12:07pm

From the AFSC’s Lucy Duncan, a look back at Henry Cadbury’s now-infamous 1934 speech to American rabbis and a look at the civility debate in modern America.

Standing up for peace means standing on the side of the oppressed, not throwing them into the lion’s mouth in the name of civility. And interrupting racist violence takes more than civil discourse: active disruption is needed in order for racism to be revealed and dismantled. What good is ineffective pacifism? My commitment to nonviolence is about saving lives.

I gave my take on Cadbury’s speech back in June. I was a little easier on Cadbury, mostly because I think we need to understand the Quaker worldview out of which he was speaking. It’s never good to lecture the oppressed on their oppression, but the classic Quaker idea of speaking truth to all sides still holds value and is something I think we miss sometimes nowadays.

Civility Can Be Dangerous

In 1934, AFSC co-founder Henry Cadbury advised Jewish rabbis to be gentler on Hitler. Is civility a substitute…

Friends Journal
Categories: Blogs

What gifts of the Spirit are we marginalizing?

Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly) - Wed, 08/15/2018 - 7:49am

Powerful warnings from Adria Gulizia about what happens when a faith community doesn’t exercise all of its gifts :

Even worse, when we routinely marginalize certain gifts, we begin to see their exercise as dysfunctional and their absence as normative, rather than the reverse. When the prophet challenges us with uncomfortable truths, rather than using our discomfort as an opportunity for reflection and discernment, we tell her to tone it down, complain that she is “unwelcoming” and, if she doesn’t get the message, we run her off.

Welcoming the Gifts God Sends Us

In order to remain healthy and faithful, we must nurture all spiritual gifts, not just the ones that…

In the Shadow of Babylon
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Is this what people want?

Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly) - Mon, 08/13/2018 - 9:05am

Don McCormick is back with this week’s Friends Journal feature. His February article, “Can Quakerism Survive,” sparked all sorts of conversations and is now at 110 comments. Now he’s back with specific suggestions for Quaker growth, inspired by megachurch church growth research and models.

When I read this, I asked myself if we Quakers are providing the equivalent of this type of spiritual guidance. Do newcomers and others see us as meeting their spiritual needs? If they do, do they see this right away, or does it take a while? To answer these questions, I had to learn more about the “clear pathway” that the Reveal literature described. Although Quakerism has great wisdom in the area of spiritual guidance, at first it seemed that it was inconsistent with the spiritual guidance described in the survey.

When I’ve taught Quakerism 101 classes, I’ve try to explain the branches of Friends—and the schisms—not just as theological or cultural phenomenon but as problem-solving preferences. What tools do we reach for in crisis? Do we go inward and recommit ourselves to distinctive practices that we’ve been slacking off on? Do we start reading groups and spiritual friendship programs to train each member to carry the work? Do we blame our Quaker oddities and start using the language and liturgical models of the more successful churches near us? Do we set up committees and produce curricula to support local efforts? Do we look to experts and craft nationwide programs and hire staff and problem solve? I’m not sure these tools need to be mutually exclusive, but in practice I see most Quaker bodies tend to reach for only one or two of these tools. And of course, the tools we chose largely determine both the problems we solve and the unintended ones we create.

What People Really Want from Church and Quaker Meeting

Looking at successful church growth models for ideas to grow our fellowship.

Friends Journal
Categories: Blogs

What Do You See In What You see? Ask Friend William Bartram

A Friendly Letter (Chuck Fager) - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 12:05pm

Trying To See Like William Bartram

[It’s not easy to keep up with my fellow-traveler/Spirit Guide, Friend William Bartram. He just can’t stay on the beaten path. . . .]

But here he is again, talking about plants, and especially trees. And one kind of tree jumped out at me from his list, the Live Oak. That’s because I’ve seen and been captivated by some magnificent specimens thereof, in a cemetery in Alabama.

There’s lots of human history in that graveyard. But we’re gonna skip all that here, and just dwell on the chlorophyllic history. The place is only a few acres, but I think I could wander in it for hours, maybe days.]

Okay, Take It Away, William . . . .

From Bartram’s Travels, 1791:

The attention of a traveller, should be particularly turned, in the first place, to the various works of Nature, to mark the distinctions of the climates he may explore, and to offer such useful observations on the different productions as may occur. . . .

        THIS world, as a glorious apartment of the boundless palace of the sovereign Creator, is furnished with an infinite variety of animated scenes, inexpressibly beautiful and pleasing, equally free to the inspection and enjoyment of all his creatures.

        PERHAPS there is not any part of creation, within the reach of our observations, which exhibits a more glorious display of the Almighty hand, than the vegetable world. Such a variety of pleasing scenes, ever changing, throughout the seasons, arising from various causes and assigned each to the purpose and use determined.

        IT is difficult to pronounce which division of the earth, within the polar circles, produces the greatest variety. The tropical division certainly affords those which principally contribute to the more luxurious scenes of splendor . . . .

        BUT the temperate zone (including by far the greater portion of the earth, and a climate the most favourable to the increase and support of animal life, as well as for the exercise and activity of the human faculties) exhibits scenes of infinitely greater variety, magnificence and consequence, with respect to human economy, in regard to the various uses of vegetables. . . .

        IN every order of nature, we perceive a variety of qualities distributed amongst individuals, designed for different purposes and uses, yet it appears evident, that the great Author has impartially distributed his favours to his creatures, so that the attributes of each one seem to be of sufficient importance to manifest the divine and inimitable workmanship.

The pompous Palms of Florida, and glorious Magnolia, strikes us with the sense of dignity and magnificence; the expansive umbrageous Live-Oak with awful veneration, the Carica papaya, supercilious with all the harmony of beauty and gracefulness; the Lillium superbum represents pride and vanity; Kalmia latifolia and Azalea coccinea, exhibit a perfect show of mirth and gaiety; the Illisium Floridanum, Crinum Floridanum, Convalaria majalis of the Cherokees, and Calycanthus floridus, charm with their beauty and fragrance.

Yet they are not to be compared for usefulness with the nutritious Triticum, Zea, Oryza, Solanum tuberosa, Musa, Convolvulous, Batata, Rapa, Orchis, Vitis vinifera, Pyrus, Olea; for clothing, Linum Canabis, Gossypium, Morus; for medical virtues, Hyssopus, Thymus, Anthemis nobilis, Papaver somniferum, Quinqina, Rheum rhabarbarum, Pisum, &c. though none of these most useful tribes are conspicuous for stateliness, figure or splendor, yet their valuable qualities and virtues, excite love, gratitude and adoration to the great Creator, who was such to endow them with such eminent qualities, and reveal them to us for our sustenance, amusement and delight. . . .

 Live oaks in the Old Oak Cemetery, Selma, Alabama.

More about William Bartram here.

The post What Do You See In What You see? Ask Friend William Bartram appeared first on A Friendly Letter.

Categories: Blogs

Shooting Holes In Justice: Emmett Till & Jimmie Lee Jackson Memorials

A Friendly Letter (Chuck Fager) - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 12:34pm

Some Folks aren’t satisfied with killing people of color; they want to kill the memory of these murders too.

Take Emmett Till, Kidnapped & murdered in Mississippi in 1955,  after someone said the 14 year-old may have whistled at a white woman. His tortured and body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River days later; it took a jury one hour to acquit the men charged with the killing.  Outrage generated by the case gave a boost to civil rights struggles.

In 2007, county leaders established the Emmett Till Interpretive Center to memorialize Till and remember the case and what it represented. The center erected a sign in a rural area near the bank of the river where Till’s body was recovered. But that sign was soon stolen and never recovered.

A second sign was put up. before long, it was full of bullet holes.

This sign was eventually moved inside the Center, itself becoming an object for reflection. And not long ago, a new sign was put up.

The new sign is now collecting bullet holes. This image is only a few days old.

Such posthumous assaults are not limited to Mississippi. In February, 1965, Jimmie Lee Jackson of Marion, Alabama, who was unarmed, was shot by a state trooper in an attack on a night march during the  historic voting rights campaign based in nearby Selma,.

Jimmie Lee Jackson’s funeral service, March 3, 1965. His death sparked the Selma-Montgomery march, which helped win the Voting Rights act.

Jackson was buried in a small cemetery near Alabama Highway 14 on the outskirts of Marion. His large headstone is impressively carved with a figure of Jesus keeping vigil.

It too has been hit  by numerous bullets. One knocked a chunk off the top, and seven or eight more are visible on close examination, in this 2015 photo.

Emmett Till’s killers walked completely free. The Alabama trooper who shot Jimmie Lee Jackson, James Fowler, shot and killed a second unarmed young black man in 1966. But forty-five years later, Fowler was convicted of manslaughter, and served several months in jail, before being released due to ill health.

Jimmie Lee Jackson, left. James Fowler, right.

The Emmett Till Interpretive Center, located in Sumner, Mississippi, has plans to expand its facility and programs, and upgrade security.

Memories aren’t bulletproof. But they don’t die easily.


The post Shooting Holes In Justice: Emmett Till & Jimmie Lee Jackson Memorials appeared first on A Friendly Letter.

Categories: Blogs

Dog Days Reading for Summer Reflection: Wandering With A Divergent Friend

A Friendly Letter (Chuck Fager) - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 8:30am

William Bartram: Divergent Friend

I’ve taken a fancy to do some traveling for the dog Days this year. I plan to join William Bartram, an independent-minded Quaker naturalist and artist, in a  journey through much of the southeast U.S.

This is not the Southeast of today, but that of 1773, so technically there wasn’t a U.S. yet; whatever. Bartram spent four years wandering the Southeast, drawing plants and animals, maps, and doing sketch portraits of Indians he visited with, and he visited with many.

I first noticed Bartram a few years ago, and prepared a series  of posts about him & his solitary exploring journeys for times of reflection. I call him a “Divergent Friend” because he went his own way, following his own leading.  He was not a “rebel” or a troublemaker; yet he was hardly typical or “normal” either.

Consider: at home, a revolution was brewing; slavery was a spreading plague; many diseases threatened. But Bartram was drawn away from all that, the “activism” and the debates, into the natural world: seeking out creatures without voices, and  territories not yet claimed by his ancestral “civilization.” He’s remembered today (by those who remember him) as a pioneer. Leadings are like that: not always driven by the “news of the day,” with significance that may not  be discernible until many years after they were followed.

Here’s the book he produced from his long rambling. Although he returned to his Pennsylvania home in 1777, he didn’t publish the book til 1791; he was in no hurry.
















And here is one of his charming, often lovely, plant drawings. I was struck early on, in looking at these, by a feature that comes out more in his writing: while his art was definitely “scientific,” aimed at adding to the knowledge of plants animals and geography, it was also religious (or, if thee insist, “spiritual”). That’s one reason I’m drawn to it for what many churches call “Lent,” a season of reflection.

Some of Bartram’s images have been used  on postage stamps. Here’s one.

It reminds me of one of William Blake’s stanzas:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
A Robin Redbreast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.
A dove house fill’d with doves and pigeons
Shudders Hell thro’ all its regions.


The post Dog Days Reading for Summer Reflection: Wandering With A Divergent Friend appeared first on A Friendly Letter.

Categories: Blogs

Cool historical find of the day

Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly) - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 6:29am

This is totally cool. The Historic Charleston Foundation in South Carolina is restoring the Nathanial Russell House, a remarkable example of neoclassical architecture on the National Historic Register, and found a fragment what they list as 1868 Friends Intelligencer above the kitchen firebox.

More fascinating discoveries from the walls of the #russellhousekitchen – new artifacts were extracted from cavities above the kitchen firebox on the first floor! This latest batch of artifacts dates to the 1850’s and 1860’s, which I think we can agree is an interesting and… fractious time in Charleston’s history. The most intriguing scrap of paper recovered from the walls is pictured here: a page ripped from a Quaker periodical entitled “Friends’ Intelligencer,” published in Philadelphia in 1868.

Who were the Friends in Charleston in the years right after the Civil War? Was the Intelligencer hidden or just recycled to plug up a draft? I wonder if this could be related to Quaker relief work in South Carolina. The most well-known example was the Penn School on St Helena Island, founded by northern Unitarians and Quakers in 1862 to educate freed Gullah after the slaveowners fled Union troops.

Curious about the fragment, I typed a few of its legible words into Google and sure enough, they’ve scanned that volume of the Intelligencer (hattip to my FJ colleague Gail, who found this link). It shows a date of Fourth Month 20, 1868, though curiously FI also republished it in 1874, which I first found. The poem is credited to Bessie Charles, the English poet also credited as Elizabeth Bundle Charles; it seems to have been published in various collections around that time. The Intelligencer continues today of course.

Historic Charleston Foundation on Instagram: “More fascinating discoveries from the walls of the #russellhousekitchen – new artifacts were extracted from cavities above the kitchen…”

1,003 Likes, 31 Comments — Historic Charleston Foundation (@historiccharlestonfoundation) on Instagram: “More fascinating discoveries from the walls of…

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Friends Journal seeking articles on Quakers and Christianity

Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly) - Tue, 08/07/2018 - 10:38am

The December theme of Friends Journal will look at the juicy topic of Friends’ relationship with Christianity. I wrote up an “Editor’s Desk” post about the kinds of articles we might expect. Here’s an excerpt:

It’s a series of questions that has dogged Friends since we did away with clergy and started calling baptism a “sprinkling,” and it has been an issue of contention in every Quaker schism: Are we Christian? Are we really Christian? Does it matter if we’re Christian? What does it even mean to be Christian in the world?

One reason we began publishing more themed issues beginning in 2012 was so we use the topics to invite fresh voices to write for us. While we’ve long had regulars who will send us a few articles a year on miscellaneous topics, themes allow us to tempt people with specific interests and ministries: reconciliation from war, climate activism, workplace reform, mentorship, ecumenical relationships, the wider family of Friends, etc.

More recently I’ve started these “Editor’s Desk” posts as a way of sharing some of the ideas we have around particular upcoming issues. The post also gives us a URL that we can share on social media to drum up submissions. I also hope that others will share the URL via email.

The absolute best way of reaching new people is when someone we know shares an upcoming theme with someone we don’t know. There are many people who by chance or inclination seem to straddle Quaker worlds. They are invaluable in amplifying our calls for submissions. Question: would it help if we started an email list just for writers or for people who want to be reminded of upcoming themes so they can share them with Friends?

Writing Opp: Quakers and Christianity

It’s a series of questions that has dogged Friends since we did away with clergy and started calling…

Friends Journal
Categories: Blogs

Friends Central School Lawsuit: The Fired Teachers Begin to Make Their Case

A Friendly Letter (Chuck Fager) - Tue, 08/07/2018 - 7:26am

Let’s review: In February of this year, officials at Friends Central School in Philadelphia abruptly canceled a speaking engagement by a Palestinian Quaker peace studies professor, then suspended and later fired the two teachers who had planned the visit. Much public controversy ensued.

In May, the two former teachers filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, alleging discrimination and retaliation by Friends Central.

Earlier posts on the Friends Central School controversy are:

 here,  here,  here , here & here.

Early last month, Friends Central’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, on the grounds that the two teachers had “failed to state a valid claim,” and that allowing the lawsuit to proceed would see the court  become “entangled” in a religious dispute, which is prohibited by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

On July 31, the teachers’ attorney, Mark Schwartz, filed his response. Prosaically titled, “PLAINTIFFS’ MEMORANDUM OF LAW IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS COMPLAINT,” it asserted that to the contrary, the teachers’ complaint did state valid claims, further that pursuing it would not require any impermissible meddling in religious doctrines, and that the motion to dismiss should be denied and the case be moved to its next phase, which is discovery of documents and other background, in preparation for a trial.

I’m advised that the court could take months to act on the motion to dismiss; so those who are following the case should not hold their breath.

Nevertheless, to update our coverage, here are some key excerpts from the plaintiffs’ July 31 memo.

Filed: July 31, 2018 [Note: Full text here.]

“At first blush, this matter deals simply with a motion to dismiss a civil rights case with pendent claims as Defendants claim protection under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S Constitution. However, the attack amounts to something much more, something dangerously precedent-setting were it to be approved, namely that a private school and those affiliated with it are exempt from the reach of Federal and State Civil Rights Acts. This is all despite Friends Central’s professed adherence to notions of responsibility, equality and diversity. When the rubber meets the road, these Defendants are insisting that they are untouchable and above it all.

Sa’ed Atshan, Swarthmore College Peace & Conflict Studies Assistant Professor. He was approved to speak, then the invitation was abruptly quashed.

However, Defendants fail any applicable test.  In no way do Plaintiffs’ claims require inquiry into religious tenets of Quakerism. Plaintiffs do not make any claims or counts based therein. Rather, Plaintiffs Complaint references guidelines and policies set forth by the school so as to depict the environment in which Plaintiffs worked and to justify their adherence to those guidelines and policies. . . .

Former Friends Central teacher Layla Helwa. suspended, then fired.

Should this Court accept Defendants’ arguments, then there is nothing to keep any purportedly religious school from claiming immunity from the Civil Rights laws, or any other laws for that matter, taking us back to the dark ages in American jurisprudence. . . .

Defendants cherry pick portions of the Complaint, then editorialize and mischaracterize it. Defendants impermissibly argue facts. For example, despite the Complaint’s clear words, Defendants claim that Plaintiffs ‘refused to heed their supervisors.’ The Complaint, is devoid of such assertions or admissions. . . .

Ariel Eure, former Friends Central teacher. Suspended, then fired.

Defendants’ claims are simply astounding; i.e., that ‘Plaintiffs set forth no facts reflecting a hostile work environment, merely repeating that they were disciplined for their failure to comply with their supervisors’ directives regarding reactions to and measures for discussion of the proposed outside speaker.’ This merely reflects their alternate statement of facts and their deliberately ignoring what Plaintiffs have clearly set forth as a “hostile” environment. . . .

Defendants make the extraordinary argument that they are immune from suit, claiming that this Court lacks jurisdiction over them. . . . “

Schwartz agrees that

“. . . the Complaint . . . refers to basic Quaker tenets as espoused by a purportedly Quaker-related institution.” But, he insists, “Doing so does not require the Court to interpret questions of Quaker scripture, doctrine, or canon. There is no mystery here. There are no Quaker hierarchy issues or sect competitions characteristic of Establishment Clause cases. Rather the Complaint sought simply to depict the nature of the environment espoused and Plaintiffs’ adherence to those simple tenets.

Friends Central Head of School, Craig Sellers.

[FCS] Defendants do not point to a single Quaker tenet that would have to be researched and adjudicated by the Court. Instead they simply re-reference the background described by Plaintiffs. Defendants fail to point out any specific problems that would require this Court to divest itself of its clear jurisdiction. They simply make a naked assertion which would exempt Defendants from the reach of civil rights statutes and a host of other statutes, all of which are neutral on their face and application.’

Schwartz notes that the Defendants’ memo copiously cites other cases and decisions, state and federal, to back up their call for dismissal. But he insists that many of these, when closely examined, backfire:

“Defendants cite cases for broad propositions without regard to the actual facts thereof or the procedural context. One must question whether the cases were even read. Many of the cases cited actually support Plaintiffs position. Defendants’ overwhelming reliance upon cases at the summary judgment stage or later, amounts to an admission that discovery should proceed in this case and indeed it should as there is no basis for any of Plaintiffs’ counts to be dismissed. . . . “

Two  examples will suffice here:

In one, Schwartz points to a PA Supreme Court decision in a church-related case, cited by the school but which he insists supports the teachers’ complaint: “’All disputes among members of a  congregation, however, are not doctrinal disputes,” wrote the court. “Some are simply disputes as to meaning of agreements on wills, trusts, contracts, and property ownership. These disputes are questions of civil law and are not predicated on any religious doctrine.’”

The school also cited a case in Massachusetts, but Schwartz finds support for his case there too: “The [Massachusetts] court stated that ‘Both this court and the United States Supreme Court have recognized that the concept of the free exercise of religion involves both belief and activity, and, while the freedom to believe particular religious principles is absolute and may not lawfully be infringed, the freedom to act in response to religious beliefs does not enjoy the same immunity.’”

Schwartz tracks methodically through page after page of additional case citations, finding most irrelevant (or “inapposite”), and more than a few in fact supportive of his clients rather than the school. We won’t follow him through all these, as many involve legal points well beyond my pay grade.

Schwartz skewers the Friends Central leadership in his close, quoting from the school’s website:

“‘…Our pedagogy is grounded in continuing revelation, reflection, integrity, and a willingness to accept responsibility.’

Under the heading ‘A Quaker History of Inclusivity and Diversity’ FCS states the following:

‘When Friends’ Central School was founded in 1845, it was a time of great division among Quakers. Our school was founded to include and serve all Quakers and was, by design, co-educational and open to non-Friends’ from the day it opened. This interest in inclusivity continues today as Friends’ Central strives for racial, religious and socio­- economic diversity in its student body and among its faculty.

We are committed to building and maintaining an inclusive and diverse community. All constituencies-faculty, staff, students, administrators, parents, trustees, and alumni/ae- are responsible for an awareness of and ongoing dialogue around equity issues of race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, privilege, religion, physical ability, and family structure, as well as for enhancing the Philosophy  of Inclusivity and Awareness articulated in our Diversity Statement.'”

Attorney Mark Schwartz

Schwartz continues:

“It is sadly ironic that Defendants profess to accept responsibility, but by their motion hypocritically claim immunity from responsibility under the law. Quite clearly, Plaintiffs ‘ reference to these and other statements do not lead us into a morass of entanglement with religion. Rather, Plaintiffs references provide the Court with insight into the environment in which Plaintiffs worked and how they were led to believe they should act. No consideration of their lawsuit occasions delving into religious doctrine. Rather this lawsuit and its claims prompt a jury to ultimately deciding whether statutory and common law were breached.”

It  may be months before we learn whether Schwartz and the teachers will fend off a dismissal and get the chance to pursue their case further. Stay tuned.

The post Friends Central School Lawsuit: The Fired Teachers Begin to Make Their Case appeared first on A Friendly Letter.

Categories: Blogs


Quaker Mystics - Mon, 08/06/2018 - 11:16pm

Dearest God
my motives are never pure

I want so badly
to serve

Yet I’m so limited

I see my efforts

indifferent surroundings

Direct me
Teach me

Comfort me
as I look at myself

So I can
keep going


old fool

Categories: Blogs

Now is the Summer of Love

Micah Bales - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 2:00am

Like a lot of folks in my city, I lead a very busy life. Challenging work during the day. Taking care of the kids in the evening. Church, family, friends, and chores on the weekends. It seems like I’m always swamped.

I live with a lot of anxiety. I want to be the best at what I do. I want to excel in my work. To be a great husband and father. To earn the respect of my community. Ironically, I often let my desires for a joyous future crowd out those things that are most important now.

This summer, the Holy Spirit has been opening my eyes to just how important this present moment is. Life is here. Love. Everything I ever needed, beyond my wildest dreams. Right now. Reality is surprising, and God is faithful. Even when I don’t get my way.

Amid the transitions and stress of a fully engaged life, I’m hearing the call of the Spirit to abide. Abide in God’s love. Abide in this present moment that is fleeting. Abide in the truth: that most of the things I stress and strain about aren’t of lasting importance. Dwell in the reality that the day and hour of my death is known to God, and will someday be known to me.

Among the many teachings of Jesus is this incredible command: Do not be anxious. Do not worry about tomorrow. “”Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

This is good news for us. This is the gospel. As impossible as it sounds, there is rest for the weary. There is peace for the brokenhearted. There is hope for those who mourn.

This summer, hear the invitation: Christ’s call to slow down, to abide in the Spirit, to rest in God’s love. Give your full presence to this moment, and be taught how to love.

Related Posts: The Kingdom of God is Freedom – Why Are We So Busy and Anxious? The Sabbath of God is Within You

The post Now is the Summer of Love appeared first on Micah Bales.

Categories: Blogs


Quaker Mystics - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 10:32pm

Help us

Forgive us

Use us

Categories: Blogs


Quaker Mystics - Tue, 07/17/2018 - 12:33pm

Wind blown

Falls on far side
of the fence

and flourishes

Turning each day
in delight
to face

glowing globe
source of all warmth

Seeing differently
from separate vantage point

Some would say

But seeing
is more than believing

personal truth

if spoken
may entice others

For there’s no need for

All are born innocent
Free to choose

Wallow in this world

Or die to self
and dance on cloud tops

Categories: Blogs


Quaker Mystics - Wed, 07/04/2018 - 7:06am

Oh God who watches every wave
and is with each blade of grass
let me know you’re here

The world holds me blind and deaf

Let me hear the whisper of your breath
in the sighing of the wind

Feel the brush of your robe
as you come to me

I lay my heart in your hands
and long to throw my body
in your arms

Gleaming rose
glowing sunset
pale before your glory

Focused on your work
twirling in ecstasy

Categories: Blogs

Continuing the Conversation

What Canst Thou Say - Mon, 05/07/2018 - 8:34am

A conversation was begun in the May issue of What Canst Thou Say around a submission from William Shetter, A Milestone Birthday, his thoughts about his ninieth birthday. Here is the continuation of the conversation and one response. We encourage Friends to continue the conversation continue the conversation by commenting to this post.

February 15-16, 2018
Two quotes from William Shetter’s answers published in the WCTS print edition caught Guest Editor Rhonda Ashurst’s attention:
“I’ve come to feel that like each of us have one life that is composed of two dimensions, one in time and the other untouched by time.
“Living in these two inescapable dimensions, time and timelessness, sets up the enormously creative tension we call “our journey”—our human adventure of discernment and discovery.” —William Shetter
Rhonda: At this stage in your life, do you have a sense of your timeless Self returning again into time and the physical body to create another human adventure?
William: No, I’ve never had any sense other than a single dependable ‘me’.
Rhonda: Do all our adventures “in time” really happen at once?
William: For me, just the opposite. That’s the part of my life that is “strung out,” giving me the sense of time in the first place. My challenging quest is for that hard-to-reach timeless part of me, not part of my everyday experience.
Rhonda: Is there some kind of progression, or is that only a human illusion? Or, perhaps it is a both/and? It is all happening in the now, and there is a progression…
William: The hesitant nature of these questions somehow signals that you’re as much baffled as everyone (at least since St. Augustine including me) is who has ever tried to understand what TIME is! …

by Jessica S.

A strong image of color came immediately to mind when I read the opening lines “the day is past and gone / the evening shades appear …”. Instead of grays and black representing the foreshortened time ahead, I found myself thinking of rich shades of blue and violet and purple. Yes, they ultimately shade into black, but before they do they are vivid and bursting with richness and unexpected beauty. I encountered these colors again when William Shetter asks “shall I endow these evening shades with a deeper, newly richer, vibrant life …?” His clear answer is “yes”, reaffirming that the evening shades are indeed saturated with intense color before they fade to black – if we strive to peer beyond.

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