In gathered worship, Friends achieve a greater depth of communion with Spirit than is possible alone. Being in community leads to spiritual growth, even when that growth is a product of discomfort.

This month you are invited to reflect on your own experiences in community and the ways you can contribute to creating a loving community, spiritual or otherwise.

Brothering the Souls of Others

Brothering the Souls of Others

Quakers enter the service of silent waiting not alone or in a series of separate reveries but in a company of worshipers; they know something of the needs of their fellow worshipers; they know something of the sufferings and needs of the world. Often they are conscious of a whole redemptive company of faithful departed ones who are engaged in this all-embracing struggle as well.

Our Highest and Holiest Ideals

Our Highest and Holiest Ideals

We’re not a seminary where beliefs must be memorized and affirmed. We are a community, a collection of people who believe if you create a rich and meaningful and compassionate community, then those who participate in that community will soak up those virtues, will marinate in those virtues, and will become who we ought to be through osmosis, through the gradual assimilation of the highest ideals we can imagine.

As Individuals, We See Only Partially

As Individuals, We See Only Partially

Although God calls each of us personally, as individuals we see only partially. Individual perception, reasoning, and understanding are always limited. Even a person who feels absolutely certain that a specific revelation comes from God may be mistaken as to how it is to be applied. Because God often reveals part of the picture to one person and another part to another person, it is prudent to consult one another to discern God’s counsel, guidance, and direction, even if there is no apparent reason to do so.

Build Afresh the Fires of Inspiration

Build Afresh the Fires of Inspiration

We are a busy people (engaged in arduous occupations, in the work of the world, sometimes losing sight of the higher interests of life). And so we have been getting together every two years among other things to catch fresh inspiration from the look into each other’s faces, to learn from each other what can be done, what is being done, in the various fields of right and elevated effort, and to renew our zeal to build afresh the fires of inspiration.

The Spiritual Gifts of Others

The Spiritual Gifts of Others

One of the universal responsibilities, especially of elders, but also of all members, is to be sensitive to the latent, but awakening spiritual gifts of others, and to offer encouragement for their increased service to the meeting. A kindly word of appreciation, counsel, or guidance may render a welcome service to one who is very much aware of a strange stirring within, yet somewhat bewildered by it.

A Gathered Community

A Gathered Community

We do not want to discount the experience of Friends who live at too great a distance from their meeting to participate regularly, nor to deny that each of us must come individually to a sense of what is right and true and essential in spiritual matters. But time and experience have proven the value of a close, responsive community in fostering individual spiritual growth, in testing and tempering individual leadings and individual understanding, and in supporting individuals as they are called to act or to suffer for religious principle.

In Turbulent Times, Be Quaker

In Turbulent Times, Be Quaker

I am always cagey around Quaker history. I have no Quaker roots in my family that I know of, I have not even experienced children’s meetings or young Quaker gatherings.

There are few better ways to feel second class in a Quaker community than when reminded by another Friend of how rich and important their Quaker ancestry is.

It is perhaps no surprise really that I connect more with the early Friends – theirs was a time where everyone came in as an enquirer, a seeker.

Food is an Open Hand of Friendship

Food is an Open Hand of Friendship

The revival of Christian hospitality in which the members of the meeting partake of food with one another is essential. Visitors to the meeting and new members are especially grateful for this open hand of friendship. The increasingly elaborate meals which many consider it necessary to set before guests have made this hospitality difficult for persons in moderate circumstances, but a return to simplicity would help in bringing about the revival of this precious sacrament.

I Swim in it as in a Sea

I Swim in it as in a Sea

I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a moment, what is this then?
I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as in a sea.

Raising Each Other’s Children

Raising Each Other’s Children

A Quaker Meeting is a fine place in which to bring up children when families do many things together – worship, play, and share the ups and downs of life. There was a group of about six families in our Meeting that shared so much that in a sense we all raised each other’s children and to this day we are one huge extended family, traveling any distance to be together for special life events like the next generation’s marriages.

Using Technology to Engage

Using Technology to Engage

Throughout the week [of the first virtual Friend General Conference* in June 2020], Friends used technology to engage with each other. They attended Pre-Gathering Retreats and affinity groups where they found safe, joyful spaces and community. They participated in workshops and afternoon presentations, listened to stories, made art together, laughed together, and worshiped together. We missed singing and dancing together.

The Fallacy of Rugged Individualism

The Fallacy of Rugged Individualism

So we are called to wholeness and simultaneously to recognition of our incompleteness; called to power and to acknowledge our weakness; called to both individuation and interdependence. Thus the problem – indeed, the total failure – of the “ethic” of rugged individualism is that it runs with only one side of this paradox, incorporates only one half of our humanity.

I’m Not a Member

I’m Not a Member

“I’m not a member.”

Throughout my journey with Friends I have said that sentence many times and many different ways (apologetically, insecurely, matter-of-factly, as an aside or by means of explanation) but very rarely with any sense of empowerment. The reactions to this revelation vary (surprise, bafflement, consternation, concern) probably because I seem so committed to the Society.

Common Ground for Understanding

Common Ground for Understanding

I have been at a Quaker school since the age of eleven and one of the things I have found to be most important is how Quakerism embraces and acknowledges differences, whether they be racial or cultural ones, or gender and religion. Where there is less focus on similarities and an appreciation of individuality and difference, there is common ground for understanding which I think is part of what makes up the Quaker ethos and the integration of diversity at my school.

Painting Sanctuary

Painting Sanctuary

This artwork takes its title, “Beloved Community, Sanctuary Cities”, from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ideas of a beloved community, where all are equal and accepted, and the proclamation to be a place of sanctuary made by cities across the U.S., this painting is meant to be a hopeful vision to hold onto in our hearts and minds.

We Are an Imperfect Human Community

We Are an Imperfect Human Community

The individual whose commitment to the community is based on a sense that these community members are somehow special human beings, who have the right concerns and values and live the right lives, will find great difficulty when members of the community fail to live up to these standards and expectations. Being human, we all fail repeatedly to live up to our own standards and expectations, and are bound to disappoint other people’s on occasion.

A Common Fear

A Common Fear

The individual whose commitment to the community is based on a sense that these community members are somehow special human beings, who have the right concerns and values and live the right lives, will find great difficulty when members of the community fail to live up to these standards and expectations. Being human, we all fail repeatedly to live up to our own standards and expectations, and are bound to disappoint other people’s on occasion.

Seeking the Truth of a Person

Seeking the Truth of a Person

The listening we advocate requires a particular mode: the questions are non-adversarial. The listening is nonjudgmental. The listener seeks the truth of the person questioned, seeks to see through any masks of hostility and fear to the sacredness of the individual, and to discern the wounds at the heart of any violence.

A More Painful Path

A More Painful Path

A mark of the liberating community is a radical commitment to a critical contemplation of one’s own life and the life of one’s faith community. This commitment is important for all groups and and especially important for communities like my own which have made small beginnings in aligning themselves with the oppressed, and are somewhere concretely involved in the struggle for justice.

Conflict is an Opportunity for Growth

Conflict is an Opportunity for Growth

We start with the premise that conflict is normal and natural, wherever people are working and living together. It often happens that our behavior or response to conflict may cause us to regard it as a negative experience, perhaps even dangerous. But conflict itself is simply a condition in which peoples’ needs, wishes, and perceptions appear to be in opposition.

“Duck Duck Goose” Turned Into a Prayer Circle

“Duck Duck Goose” Turned Into a Prayer Circle

On Saturday of the Young Quakes gathering, a group of us were playing duck duck goose in a nearby field during our free time in the afternoon. We had just started to play when another young Friend from the conference came running down the road in tears and proclaimed the news: President George W. Bush just announced that the United States had officially begun bombing Afghanistan.

Two Exercises to Help you Center Down

Two Exercises to Help you Center Down

There is a progression in the spiritual life. It is not wise to tackle the Mt. Everest of the soul before having had some experience with lesser peaks. So I would recommend beginning with a daily period of from five to ten minutes. This time is for learning to “center down,” or what the contemplatives of the Middle Ages called “re-collection.” It is a time to become still, to enter into the recreating silence, to allow the fragmentation of our minds to become centered.