I just watched a video from Quakerspeak which really touched me because I’ve been thinking about this particular topic for a while now. I regularly attend weekly Eucharist at a community where there is an intentional effort to connect form and substance. Then this week I had a chat with a relative who wondered if I believed in God or had similar understanding of salvation that she had. I’m glad we had the discussion because it sent me scurrying back to my roots of belief which are much different that hers.
I’m a contemplative and a mystic. I find God or if you will a higher power not in reading the Bible, nor singing in the choir, not in evangelizing others but simply abiding in silence. I frequently visit Abbey of the Genesee and other quiet places including walks in parks and woodlands. My sister has been trying to get me to watch “The Chosen” which is a series about the life of Jesus of Nazareth. I watched one episode and it really didn’t appeal to me. Some folks get a lot of intellectually knowing Jesus or knowing about him. I’m not one of them. My connection has always been mystical yet for most of my life and I had no way of knowing that or of expressing it. I try to live Matthew 25 and have for most of my life.
This winter and spring I’ve been reading and learning more about Quakers. I recently attended one of their meetings on Zoom. I enjoyed the silence. There were dozens of folks in that virtual meeting. This week’s news about a possible ban on abortions has left me feeling unsettled and betrayed by membership in a church that has a backward and overly simplistic view of the problem. They are the epitome form without substance. I try to love and respect all living beings. I try to avoid hitting animals when I’m driving. I don’t hunt. I believe in restorative justice. I believe in a woman’s right to chose but would pray that they choose life whenever possible. There must be a solution that respects not just the life of the fetus but the life of the mother and the ability of the society at large to take care of both mother and child.
I first saw this quote from a framed poster at Mount Irenaeus over twenty years ago. It’s as meaningful now as it was then. In fact I find myself more and more attracted to solitude the older I get. Sitting in church or anywhere for that matter never really turned me on. I find God or if you will the higher power in the silence of the woods, the babbling of a brook, the gentle lapping of waves along a lake shore or anywhere that silence abounds.
If you are wondering what God may be, Looking for a purpose in life, Craving company, or seeking solitude, Come to our Meeting for worship. We shall not ask you to speak or sing, We shall not ask you what you believe, We shall simply offer you our friendship, And a chance to sit quietly and think. And perhaps somebody will speak,
And perhaps somebody might read, And perhaps somebody might pray, And perhaps you will find here That what you are seeking. We are not saints, We are not cranks, We are not different- Except that we believe That God’s light is in all persons, Waiting to be discovered… Author Unknown
The following quote comes from a Quaker house of worship and it is prominently displayed in the library under the chapel at Mt. Irenaeus. I first saw it on a Sunday in the spring of 2000 and it still is powerful for me. That Sunday I was wondering what God may be and I’m still wondering. I hope the wonder never ends.
If you are wondering what God may be, looking for a purpose in life, craving company, or seeking solitude come to our Meeting for Worship! We shall not ask you to speak or sing. We shall not ask you what you believe. We simply offer you our friendship, and a chance to sit quietly and think, and perhaps somebody will speak, and perhaps somebody will read, and perhaps you will find here That which you are seeking… We are not saints, We are not cranks, We are not different… Except that we believe that God’s light is in everyone waiting to be discovered.
My wife’s surgery went well today and she was very grateful for the many prayers offered on her behalf. She’s on the road to recovery. My father-in-law’s surgery did not provide such good news. He has cancer which we hope is treatable. Please pray him if you are of a mind to do so. This has been a very busy month and I have not had time to write much, but my thoughts have been about this blog. I have been reading a great deal lately and much of it on Kindle. One of my latest reads has been, “A Hidden Wholeness,” by Parker Palmer. I enthusiastically recommend it to you.
News that the Obama girls will be attending Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC sent me a journey to learn more about the school. I’ve long been fascinated with Quakers and regularly contribute to the Friends Committee on National Legislation. In the library under Holy Peace Chapel at Mt. Irenaeus hangs a framed poster with the following written on it. Reading this nearly nine years ago led me to believe that perhaps I had found a home.
If you are wondering what God may be,
Looking for a purpose in life,
Craving company, or seeking solitude,
Come to our Meeting for worship!
We shall not ask you to speak or sing,
We shall not ask you what you believe,
We shall simply offer you our friendship,
And a chance to sit quietly and think,
And perhaps somebody will speak,
And perhaps somebody will read,
And perhaps somebody will pray,
And perhaps you will find here
That which you are seeking…
We are not saints,
We are not cranks,
We are not different –
Except that we believe,
That God’s light is in us all,
Waiting to be discovered.
This video came from the American Friends Service Committee website and it’s very powerful. As we approach Memorial Day let us consider what other memorials there could be. War is not nor does it have to be the only memorial. There are other ways to help our fellows.
Today when I arrived home from work I checked my mail. The largest parcel came from the American Friends Service Committee. When I opened the large envelope it contained a poster that can be displayed that simply states Friends for Peace. The American Friends Service Committee holds a special place in my heart. They are people who never seem to grow tired of working for peace. The letter invited me to contribute and at the same time send a letter to my elected representatives asking them to do their constitutional duty and end this War in Iraq. You too can defund the War by following this link.
Today marked the 4,000th American soldier killed in combat in Iraq. Colonel Dan Smith has a well written piece at Quakers Colonel. I also read a well written piece my Michael Moore at CommonDreams. It is more than a sad story. It is the tragic death of the American Democracy. We’re taxed to death to pay for their war machine and what money they can’t wring out in taxes is beaten out of us at the gas pumps. I think the country as we knew it is dead. We have no voice in our government. Word that Exxon deliberately under produced to drive up prices brings no response from the government. It’s no surprise and none of the candidates can do a damn thing about it. The election is just a sham, policies will remain the same. They are all just figureheads for the war machine.
Thomas Merton sums up my thoughts best.
“I am against war, against violence, against violent revolution, for peaceful settlement of differences, for nonviolent but nevertheless radical changes. Change is needed, and violence will not really change anything: at most it will only transfer power from one set of bull-headed authorities to another.” Thomas Merton