Quaker Spirituality

 
 

Be an Ark-Builder

The ark-builders understand the link between consumption and devastation: the more we consume — of gasoline, junk food, clothing, containers, electronic toys — the more the planet must be mined, bull-dozed, clear-cut, and paved. Recognizing this, the ark-builders don't identify themselves as consumers but as conservers. Their aim in life is not to devour as much stuff as possible, but to savor the necessities of life. They learn to provide for themselves as many of  those necessities as they can, from growing food to rewiring an old house, from playing the banjo to sewing quilts. They share tools, cars, and recipes with friends and neighbors. They exchange labor with others in their community, trading a load of firewood for a tune-up, say, or         swapping a haircut for a massage. The ark-builders don't rush from one sensation to the next, as   the media propose, but instead relish the pleasures of an unhurried pace. They hang their    laundry outdoors, enjoying the sunshine, instead of stuffing it in a machine. They cook their own  food instead of grabbing a sack of sugar and fat in a drive-through lane. They take walks or sit    for talks with people they love, instead of buying a ticket to the latest craze. They meet the   world in the flesh, instead of through a screen. They remember how to dream and laugh without the benefit of electricity.

          — Scott Russell Sanders in A Conservationist Manifesto

 

Reframe Scarcity

True abundance comes not to those set on securing wealth but to those who are willing to share apparent scarcity in a way that creates more than enough. Those who seek well-being, who grasp for more than their share, will find life pinched and fearful. They will reap only the anxiety of needing more and more, fueled by the fear that someday everything will be taken away. But those who reach out in service to their brothers and sisters, knowing that true abundance is found not in hoarding but in community, will find a life of plenty. Having been there for others, they have reason to believe that others will be there for them.

Surely this is a conversion — literally, a "turning" — for it takes the world's logic of scarcity and turns it upside down. Grasping brings less; letting go brings more. What God wants from our fear of scarcity is not a voracious capitalism but the spiritual insight that we cannot buy the identity and security we seek. Those will come to us only as we let go and live in God's grace, which means living in solidarity with those for whom scarcity is no illusion but a matter of life and death.

As we who have more than enough move toward this solidarity, we will learn that people who live with material scarcity often understand spiritual abundance far better than we do. These people, who have always had to transcend in trust the world of scarce resources, will turn out to be our guides on the spiritual journey. They are the ones to whom Jesus was closest. They are the last whom the Gospel makes first. In their lives, the paradox of scarcity and abundance is made manifest for all who have ears to hear and eyes to see.

— Parker J. Palmer in The Promise of Paradox

 
 
 
Be Frugal and Generous

Frugality is good if it is joined to bountiful generosity. Frugality eliminates unnecessary expenses; generosity gives what has been saved for the benefit of others in need. Frugality without generosity leads to greediness; generosity without frugality leads to wastefulness; both together make an excellent balance. Happy is the place where that is found.

If this balance were universal, we would be cured of two extremes: poverty and extravagance; those with too much would supply those with too little, bringing both nearer to an appropriate condition and a just amount of earthly happiness.

It is a disgrace both to religion and to government to put up with so much poverty and extravagance.

— William Penn in Some Fruits of Solitude edited by Eric K. Taylor

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            January Table Grace (prayers reflecting Earth Charter principles) Published by Ministry of Arts.

Glorious God, Spirit of the North, and all Seasons, your strength and power allows us to bear the sometimes bitter cold harshness and uncertainty of life with grace and hope.

This winter day, we feel gratitude for the warming energies of Earth and we in turn, are warmed by the love shared at this table.

With thankful hearts, we offer our prayers to you, Our Caring, Just One.

 

Awaken us to see that the protection of Earth’s vitality, diversity and beauty is a sacred trust.

Sustain us as become the bridge that lessens the gap between rich and poor, between justice and injustice.

Give us the courage and will to speak out against corrupt and unjust governments around the world.

Enlighten our minds to see that human development is about being more not having more.

Give us the humility to work together with varying points of view to forge inclusive, thoughtful decisions.

Sustain us through the dark and painful times, lest we become discouraged; give us patience to continue our work for the good of all creation.

Renew within us, your creative power; open us to new ways of transforming hearts and minds.

May Your love, experienced through both food and relationships be poured out into the world by each of us in our own way….Amen

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     Below is a meditation from Carl D. Williams.  Plainfield (Vermont) Monthly Meeting New England Yearly Meeting http://musingsandgleanings.blogspot.com/

 

A meditation:

“Jesus, grilled by the Pharisees on when the kingdom of God would come, answered, ‘The kingdom of God doesn't come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, 'Look here!' or, 'There it is!' And why? Because God's kingdom is already among you.’" (Luke 17:20-21 from The Message © 2002)

A year or so ago, I set about to move a bulky, heavy wooden futon frame upstairs. I had waited a few days, thinking maybe someone would come by and I could get a hand, but tired of that and one day just moved it. Then, when I had it raised to its full length over my head in the well of the stairway, I realized that perhaps waiting was the better choice, and said out loud, ”This might not go well.” But none of the things that might have gone wrong did, and the job was accomplished with only a few nicks and scratches on the walls. Tackling chores by myself that are really for two is a pattern with me, and not one I’m especially happy with. But it’s an idea firmly in our culture here in America. Our stories and our myths urge extreme self-reliance. Our heroes are often folks who change the world on their own, or least it’s presented that way. Really, though, things truly accomplished are accomplished mutually. We are meant to work together, to wrestle big things and big ideas as a group.

Friends have always had the deep understanding of the power and the necessity of community. We come together as a worshiping community, sure of the Presence, awaiting transformation. We put our hands to God’s work recognizing that the work grows and is reinforced in our communities. We embrace ministry not as a single person but as a voice of a meeting community.

When I reflect on where I’ve achieved in life and where I’ve failed, I am acutely aware that any success is rooted my community. I am so grateful to friends who help me with the heavy lifting in my life and Friends who point me to God’s path. Both surround me with abiding love—cdw

“Let us give thanks for a bounty of people:

For generous friends, with smiles as bright as their blossoms.

For feisty friends as tart as apples;

For continuous friends who, like scallions and cucumbers, keep reminding us that we’ve had them.

For crotchety friends, as sour as rhubarb and as indestructible;

For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn; and the others as plain as potatoes and as good for you.

For friends as unpretentious as cabbages, as subtle as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as endless as zucchini, and who, like parsnips, can be counted on to see you through the winter.

For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time.

For young friends, who wind around like tendrils and hold us.

      We give thanks for friends now gone, like gardens past that have been harvested, but who fed us in their times that we might live.” –“A Harvest of People” by Max Coots

 

 
 
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OCTOBER TOPIC


 

What do we really wish to do in the days we have? : Exploring a legacy of Spirit

Pelham Half Yearly Meeting – Afternoon Learning Session

October 30, 2011, Yarmouth Meetinghouse


Considering Advices and Queries, #27 - 29 (below), we will explore together the following questions:

1. What in my life has brought me great joy?

2. And what might there be in my future?

a. What conversation have I not yet had?

b. What service have I not yet done?

c. What adventure have I not yet experienced?

d. What creation have I not yet tried?

e. What have I named that would bring me joy?

f. How can I begin it?

We may use worship sharing, creative and/or playful activities for the exploration.

27. Live adventurously. When choices arise, do you take the way that offers the fullest opportunity for the use of your gifts in the service of God and the community? Let your life speak. When decisions have to be made, are you ready to join with others in seeking clearness, asking for God’s guidance and offering counsel to one another?

28. Every stage of our lives offers fresh opportunities. Responding to divine guidance, try to discern the right time to undertake or relinquish responsibilities without undue pride or guilt. Attend to what love requires of you, which may not be great busyness.

29. Approach old age with courage and hope. As far as possible, make arrangements for your care in good time, so that an undue burden does not fall on others. Although old age may bring increasing disability and loneliness, it can also bring serenity, detachment and wisdom. Pray that in your final years you may be enabled to find new ways of receiving and reflecting God’s love.

. - Advices and Queries 27-29, page 185, Faith and Practice of Canadian Yearly Meeting



SEPTEMBER TOPIC


Spirituality - adapted from website of spirituality and practice by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat plus readings from — J. Brent Bill in Holy Silence


USE QUERIES

Since Quakers don't have a formal creed or a prayer book against which to measure faithfulness, we developed the concept of asking questions of ourselves, individually and corporately, as a gauge of faith and practice. This method began in the seventeenth century with the now quaint name of "Queries." Queries are sets of questions rooted in Quaker faith and life as informed by Friends' history, collective Quaker wisdom, and the Bible. The Queries are meant to be a form of guided self-examination, but they aren't meant to be an outward set of rules. In that sense, there are no outwardly defined correct answers. Rather, the Queries give us a framework within which we can look at and consider prayerfully the direction of our lives and the life of our worshiping community.

— J. Brent Bill in
Holy Silence


 To Practice This Today:  These Queries are suggested by J. Brent Bill. He advises that you relax your body and mind, breathe deeply, and think about the Query slowly and gently.


• Do I encourage in myself a habit of relying on God's guidance for each day?

• In holy silence, do I respond to the leadings of the Holy Spirit, without trying to decide in advance what those leadings may be?

• Am I open to the healing power of God's love?

• Am I aware of the Spirit of God at work in the ordinary activities and experiences of daily life?

• Am I ready to yield to God's will?




AUGUST TOPIC

Spirituality - adapted from website of spirituality and practice by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat plus readings from — Philip Gulley in Porch Talk

 

Be Content

I once asked Ruby the secret of her contentment, and she looked at me, thoroughly mystified. Secret? What secret? She smiled and went on about her day.

Why are folks who think the least about contentment the most content?

I suspect Ruby's "secret" is low expectations. She grew up in hardship, assumed most of her life would follow that pattern, and so was surprised and grateful when good came her way. Too many of us approach life in the opposite manner. We believe the world owes us a great deal, are disappointed when it fails to deliver, and think ourselves deprived. If life were mashed potatoes, we'd see the lumps and Ruby would see the gravy.

Perhaps our headlong pursuit of happiness is the enemy. Since Ruby never believed the world owed her happiness, she's found it in small ways, in the slightest things, cultivating the wise habit of seeing the silver lining and not the cloud.

This is a great irony — people who have every reason to be content seldom are. Though happiness is their aim, it seems always out of reach. I wonder if gratefulness is the bridge from sorrow to joy, spanning the chasm of our anxious striving. Freed from the burden of unbridled desires, we can enjoy what we have, celebrate what we've attained, and appreciate the familiar. For if we can't be happy now, we'll likely not be happy when.

— Philip Gulley in
Porch Talk

To Practice This Today: Make a list of little things, small ways, moments that make you happy. Pick out one of them and

celebrate it right now.




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