Near where the ancestors sleep – new faithfulness emerges (Lake Champlain Worship Group)

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The Champlain Islands Quaker Meeting is a worship group under the care of Burlington VT meeting. This past First-day I had the blessing of worshiping with them.  I had heard that their meeting was originally a summer meeting, but now they have decided to meet year round. They told me after worship that they were considering laying themselves down at one point – they are only 5-6 Friends on a Sunday.  However, they were not clear to do so, and the Friends here continue to gather in worship and encouragement for their daily lives.  They meet in the South Hero VT Public library, a warm and inviting small space where they move chairs into a circle amount the books and tables.  For visitors, they have a full display of “What’s a Quaker” type handouts, and a clear sign planted outside on the library lawn, and another one on the door.  I arrived after worship had begun, but one of their members greeted me at the door, and invited me to sit.  They also gave me a wonderful brief guide to their meeting, with contact information, and ways to request childcare.

I felt a clear sense of involvement from them in the wider Quaker world.  They said they often are blessed with visitors who know something of Quaker worship and ways. They recognized my name, as I will be returning to co-lead a workshop in Burlington in October on eldering.  Their clerk has already been doing some reading about the Quaker tradition of eldering, and they are hoping to attend.  Their relationship with the larger Burlington Meeting seems to sustain their involvement among Friends in New England.

They were delighted to learn I was traveling among Friends, and read my travel minute aloud.  They asked for permission to sign it (seeing lots of other signatures).  I was happy to explain how this tradition of traveling in ministry had called to me, and how my meeting would hear news of my visit.

I enjoy visiting with these smaller groups of worshiping Friends.  Often, I find they are certainly involved in spiritual work and living faithful lives, and are not wrapped up in a need for their meeting to be a particular size.  This group provides all information to be welcoming to seekers who might want to join – but also is maintaining a spiritual practice of weekly worship that supports their own faith journeys. Perhaps this meeting will grow and meet for many years, perhaps it will someday fade, but I am encouraged by the immediate willingness to meet in Divine presence and be open to what comes next, and what is here now.  I’m hopeful that this example of smaller, attentive worship groups under the care of a larger meeting is a model that might help Quakers in more rural or remote places, or those who might need worship on other days besides Sundays and traditional “church” times.

This area in Vermont has a long history of Quaker presence.  I’ll write about that next!

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Bloom where you are planted. Know what Living Water you need.

This week has been a very full one, in terms of actions for justice across New England. I’ve been encouraged to see so much engagement, so much of God’s Truth being shared and supported by so many of all faiths here in New England.

At times though, it’s been a bit challenging for me.  As someone with autoimmune and serious joint and mobility concerns, I simply can’t often participate in these ways.  My feet swell on their own when I’m in one position too long.  My body temperature is not easily regulated, and being in hot sun can cause lasting struggles.  Certainly, I’m not walking further than taking out the trash some days, not across the states in immigration witness.  My unsure feet will not even walk me near that New Hampshire coal plant (see above), and my back muscles can’t support carrying even one empty bucket. I also am a stay at home parent, with responsibilities here as well.

If this is a movement, however, these actions are just some of the work that must include all of “us”.  I’ve been encouraging and connecting others by sharing stories and asking for support on social media, I’ve cooked food to bring, offered rides when possible.  Due to my health concerns I simply can’t risk arrest in the ways others can.  But I an bring money to bail them out, bring them to court dates, and sit and wait to make sure those folks are okay. When you get locked up – who feeds your cat?  Call me.  😉

IN this past week, at every interaction I have had with God’s faithful people doing this active work, I have felt welcomed and a part of the movement.

My understanding is that this was an intergral part of the early Quaker movement as well.  Membership in a Quaker meeting had a very specific purpose – when ministers were thrown in jail for their faith, the community had to know who was a member, and who needed their children card for, their crops harvested.  We Friends speak about the “valiant sixty” Friends who encouraged the movement – I wonder about the unamed “valiant six hundred (at least!) who were on call as crucial support in quiet, perhaps unrecognized ways. In later years, I’ve become aware that there was a vast network of people supporting Rosa Parks refusing to leave her seat on the bus, and Martin Luther King Jr had a robust support team.

As these important movements go forward – I feel it right to share a word of encouragement to those that are being faithful to their part of the call into God’s kingdom.  Use your own gifts and talents – unique and made for you – in helping our shared world to become kinder, more loving, and safe.   Praying, writing, sharing news, making bread, singing, making art – all parts of this important Work.


Solidarity Walk for Immigrant Justice 2019

Coal Plant, Merrimack NH – Climate Disobedience Center action



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Traveling in Gospel Ministry – new openings, old threads

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

– William Stafford


Today is an anniversary of sorts.  8 years ago, in 2011, I stumbled upon a tiny meeting of Conservative Friends in Winona, Ohio.  I say stumbled – I was clearly led, but had little idea of the whole plan as it unfolded.  I carried a letter of introduction that could not be called a “travel minute” since had not yet been endorsed by our Yearly Meeting (due to a scheduling issue).  I had intended to go to a completely different meeting, in a different town, on the way back from an FGC gathering which was the actual “point” of my trip.  I sat in worship with three weighty Friends, I went to the home of Myrtle Bailey for an Opportunity and lunch, and basically got a whole new introduction to ministry and travel, experientially.

This morning I am in Wilmington North Carolina.  I am intending (God willing) to check into the North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative) gathering for the week.  I have a new travel minute, a different meeting, my daughter is with me, and she has her own letter of introduction.  This trip also hit some snags, and yet here I am in perfect God’s timing.

The past eight years have been very full.  I have a very new iPhone, some new digital ministry skills for sharing, and a whole lot of knowledge I did not have before.  I still feel completely overwhelmed and unprepared for all of this.  I have an oversight of ministry committee and number of Friends who help – I’d barely met most of them in 2011.

I’m still carrying the same small bible from 2011.  I have a new-to-me “Book of Meetings” from 1858 in my pocket.  It was a gift from Friend Carl, and is a book that Traveling Ministers used to carry with them to note news of where they had been, and be aware of upcoming meetings of Friends all over the world.  Most importantly, I have the memories of all I have learned, and those I have met, and the messages written on my heart. Those don’t go away and are very light to carry.  I also have a lot of Quaker T-shirts – still no bonnet.

And thus, my intentional year of travel in Gospel Ministry among Friends, begins.  Or continues.  All about where you hold that thread….

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The webs we weave in Covenant Community

A number of years ago, while at our Yearly Meeting Annual Sessions, I said the following:

In traveling many places this year and worshiping with Friends, I have seen that it’s not about boundaries, it’s about centers. In all the meetings and here in this gathering, what keeps rising is the image of a web, which starts from the outside. It is anchored there and grows inward. All it needs to concern itself with is how firm the anchors are and how it can grow inward. So it is with our meetings — our anchors are on the outside, and we are called to grow inward strongly. It’s in our meetings that we’re called to move into the place of love, where, in covenant community, we can discover and use our gifts. Everywhere there are gifts arising, and they are evident everywhere. But we’re still tending just to see them as individual gifts and we really need to do better in recognizing as a body, corporately, where we are and these gifts within that context.

As I came across this recently, I was surprised at how relevant and alive this statement still is for me.

When I am in that most centered, most deep listening and grounded place, I can be well used in ways I could not fathom otherwise.  This place of dedicated focus on the Inner Life clears away distractions, gives me strength, and allows the gifts I carry on behalf of our community to be fully realized.  But I can only do that Work, or any Work at all, with the specific tools I am uniquely given.

I’ve heard it said in various places that Quakers, despite our small numbers, have often been in the “right place at the right time” in terms of creating God’s kin-dom on earth.  I would not limit that to only Quakers of course – but to anyone who lives into their gifts as a part of the community.  I wonder if that outside, worldly effectiveness is a result of not just being in the right place at the right time – but being the right person in the right gift, all of the time.

“…do not depend on the hope of results. …you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.” – Thomas Merton

As I stumble along on this blessed path of Spiritual engagement and practice, I make more sense of Merton’s words.  This taking of the next step, feeling the rightness of the path even when it does not seem “effective” by the world’s standards, often results in exactly being uniquely well used.  I find, then, my piece of the work is connected in this web of faithfulness with others, and shared in community.

As I embark on a summer of travel among Friends, I am eager to learn more about how other Friends have felt their gifts emerge, and found their gifts supported in our communities of Faith and Practice.


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New adventures, well-worn paths

We will now consider our young Minister as having an enlargement of both understanding and love, engaging [her] mind to labour for the good of others; and this can’t be confined to thy own Meeting, Church, or County, where thou hast thy residence, but the constraining power of love, arising from the operation of the gift in thy own mind, may bring thee under a weighty concern to visit the Churches abroad, in which work there generally is a gradual beginning ; first in visiting thy neighbouring Meetings, and in this work, as thou keepest thy place, thou wilt gain experience, and thereby come to be more fit to undertake weightier service. – Samuel Bownas

In the past few years, I have been blessed with a growing sense of travel in ministry.  This visiting with others, experiencing the Life that knits us together in shared worship and service, has been an unexpected Joy.

A few years ago, I made a hard decision to leave my Quaker employment – it felt right to allow me to more freely experience time with my Quaker community without the constraints and responsibilities of a staff role.  It left me, quite frankly, a little bit lost and wandering.

I sense that I landed well.  In this time, I’ve been in a meeting that has embraced this as a ministry, become more grounded in my family life and routines, and continued to travel.  It has felt like deep preparation.  I have noted, much to my delight and in gratitude, a sense that if I am following faithfully, and listening to this growing leading, I will end up where I may be well-used.

In addition, I’ve spent the past few years sharing some skills and talents with Quakers both near and afar.  I’ve experimented with new digital tools, become a “digital minister”, and helped meetings with conversations about outreach and growth.

It is time for a new shape of service.  In the next year, I will be released, in part due to a NEYM Legacy Grant from the Witness and Ministry Fund, to travel more intentionally among Friends in Gospel Ministry.  This involves worshiping with Friends on First days, in other Opportunities and gatherings, and wherever I am led.

Will I still use the technology?  Yes.  But instead of teaching about it, I most often will be using those tools to share my own story, and share the stories of the Life among Friends that I find as I travel.

In addition – our family is moving to a new home.  So much change!  But the timing seems very right to me.

In the time of reflection for me, I’ve been reminded of the hundreds of Friends I have already met in my travels.  They are part of my covenant community, and I am so humbled to know I shall visit them again – and meet even more!  Here’s a collection of those moments:




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When wings are meant for swimming….

This weekend I had the gift of attending “They Gathered Around” – a retreat and explorations of those called to the work of pastoral ministry in our Meetings and wider Quaker communities.

In part of this time together, we were asked to select, from a large pile, an animal that represented our gifts that we bring to our communities.  A thoughtful and fun sharing of those reasons ensued.

Some folks spent much time considering each animal.  They looked at them, walked around the table, picked one up and placed it back down.  I, on the other hand, walked up to the table, saw a tiny penguin off to one corner, and knew it was mine.  My reasons for this continued to emerge throughout the weekend…

Penguins have wings.  Like birds do.  And yet – they do not fly.  What a grand confusing mixup of expectations this is! I know a few other facts about penguins.  On land, they waddle so they do not slip on the ice.  They break into joyful fervor when they see someone/something they like.  They embody playful exuberance.

I found myself wondering during this weekend with Friends – how do our meeting communities recognize, support and honor the “penguins” in our midst?  How do we create the space and flexibility for those gifts to fully emerge and be used in our communities?

If it is assumed that my wings are meant for flying – and I am told that is the only option – I will always keep trying to fly.  In order to please others, because it’s the way God made me, because it’s my community’s expectation.

Why would it even occur to me that wings and feathers could be made for swimming?

When penguins swim, they are one of the fastest animals and most effective hunters on the planet.  They dive deeply, speed around catching fish, and are generally obviously made for what they are doing in that moment.  With wings.  In water.  Hmmmmm.

Penguins have another interesting aspect to their lives.  Unlike other birds, which lose feathers throughout their lives and replace them as needed – penguins experience catastrophic molt.  For a brief period of a few weeks, the penguins lose ALL of their feathers – turning from sleek majestic effective hunters of the sea, to comical and vulnerable awkward helpless creatures.  They eat lots of fish beforehand so they don’t starve.  They hang out in communities so they don’t get eaten as often.


How does this relate to me (and maybe some others) in my Quaker community?

The times when I am able to come most fully alive, to live into the piece of God’s kin-dom I am meant to shepherd and serve, is when I am simply able to feel direct nudges of the Spirit, and experiment with what works best for the tools I possess.  I need to be able to take risks, to fall down safely, and to be encouraged to keep going.

It also helps to have mentors and supporters that can give me feedback, but also leave the space open.  Someone who might say “hey, those wings aren’t getting much lift – do they ever feel like they might be of use in a different way?” or “ice ahead!  Remember to waddle when you are not in the sea.”

My most tender time is during the catastrophic molt.  None of this gently growing back feathers after travel for me.  After joyful and exhausting ministry, I’m often still riding a high of sorts from the gratitude of faithful service.  I’m also totally vulnerable and featherless, and if I end up indulging in bad habits or excess of decisions, I will make bad choices and do some serious physical, mental, and spiritual damage to myself.  Others might have a more gradual reentry.  I need to shut down when I find myself featherless.  I need Friends who can remind me about that returning and renewal as well.

Those are my needs, and it’s taken me a good long while to be able to name them.  I’m sure there are others I haven’t discovered yet.  I can only find them in the reflections of the covenant community I walk with.

What might be some of the ways we assume Friends in our communities must always use their wings to fly, as we expect and have seen before?

  • Young Adults having lots of energy
  • Older folks always being wary of new technology
  • Young folk always being adept with technology
  • Visitors and “unchurched” folks longing for fancy new worship shapes, rather than deep traditions and liturgy
  • Sundays at 10 am being the best time for worship in community
  • Needing a building for worship
  • Not needing a building for worship
  • Silence rather than music
  • Singing and dancing in gatherings always being folk/protest music and contradance
  • God finds us best in quiet sitting and lack of movement
  • Children don’t share “real” ministry
  • Adults always do share “real” ministry

In order to be effective, penguins need to “flip” the bird narrative on its head.  Wings are meant for swimming.  Birds are in water like fish.  When you see it, it all makes sense somehow.

I’m holding these questions as I return from this time among Friends….

What expectations did Jesus flip? What does wholeness and resurrection and “winning”look like when defined by Love, and not by the empire?  How do we encourage each other to see that kin-dom and its gifts, and fully embrace those paradoxes as the Work itself of the covenant of beloved community?




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The state of our society – 1921 New England Yearly Meeting Newport, RI

At one time (and still, among Ohio Conservative Friends) New England Yearly Meeting answered the queries in our book of discipline directly, in order to demonstrate our current condition.  I find these reports fascinating, and of great encouragement to me when I see some of the same Joys and challenges we have today.

Full 1921 minutes can be found here:

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

At New England Yearly Meeting of Friends held at Westerly, Rhode Island, with Public Meetings for Worship on First Day the 5th of Sixth Month, 1921, and on Second Day the 6th with those for Discipline.


Ans. 1. All our religious meetings for Worship and Discipline have been held, with the exception of three. One report states that the hour for gathering could be better observed with profit to the meeting. The conduct of members has been satisfactory, except a few instances of sleep, and a reverent attitude has been maintained.

Ans. 2. Love and unity are well maintained, detraction is guarded against, and there are no differences of which we have knowledge.

Ans. 3. Friends show an increasing concern to uphold our testimony to a waiting, spiritual worship and to a free gospel ministry, exercised under the immediate authority and anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Ans. 4. Friends are concerned to bring up those under their direction in ‘simplicity of speech, deportment and apparel, to restrain them from pernicious reading and harmful influences of worldly associations. They are generally exemplary in these respects themselves.

The Holy Scriptures are frequently read in most families.

Ans. 5. The manufacture, sale and use of all intoxicating liquors are avoided. Friends desire to abstain from all harmful diversions and to keep in true simplicity at the time of marriages and on all other occasions.,

Ans. 6. There are no Friends in need of pecuniary aid. Friends endeavor to keep their children under the care and influence of Friends.

Ans. 7. We believe Friends maintain a faithful testimony against the several parts of this query, but a more vital testimony for peace and disarmament however would be in accordance with our tradition and contribute to the spirit of love which the world most needs at the present time.

Ans. 8. As far as we know Friends are careful to live within the bounds of their circumstances, to keep to moderation in their business, to be punctual to their promises, just in the payment of their debts, and honest in all their dealings.

Ans. 9. The instruction of the youth in the principles of the Truth as professed by us as well as discouraging unsuitable marriages is a concern that deeply exercises us.

Marriages, births, deaths and burials are duly recorded. There has been one removal without a certificate.

Ans. 10. We believe a care rests with Friends to deal with offenders as the Discipline requires, but we feel the need of true spiritual discernment in such cases. “That first of all supplications, prayers and intercessions” be made for all, “for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the Truth.” There has been no placing of judgment since our last account.

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Acadia Friends Meeting

This weekend I had the blessing of visiting with Acadia Friends.  I arrived Friday evening for a weekend of workshops and conversations (and potlucks!) regarding digital presence and outreach.  I left them well equipped with information and next steps, and a willingness to experiment with some new platforms and forms of connection.  I appreciated their tender concern for making sure all their members remain connected, and still trying to find additional ways of connecting with their wider community and Maine Friends.

After a full weekend, I worshipped with Acadia Friends on Sunday morning at the Community House in Northeast Harbor Maine. There were 15 of us, a welcoming place warmed with a fire that various Friends tended to throughout the worship.  It felt like appropriate metaphor for us that morning – Friends gathered in the Presence, yet also attending to the human and practical of fire tending.  There was one quiet hopeful message and gathered waiting worship. At the entrance on a small table, Friends had a box of “inspirations” – short Quaker sayings and quotations that might serve to prompt some thought and mediation in worship for the morning among attenders.  I liked the idea of providing a simple flexible prompt for those who it might be helpful to. At the rise of worship the clerk read my travel minute, and it was enthusiastically endorsed.

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After meeting I engaged in a number of conversations around my visit, and learned more about their work in their community and the wider Maine and Quaker worlds.  I remained for their Peace and Social Concerns meeting, and was pleased to hear of all the work and growing edges of service supported by the meeting.  These converstions and topics were all grounded in a more hopeful concern for bringing a “Quaker” sense of unity and hope and deep listening to their interactions with community members, each other, and local politicians and groups.  There was a discussion of the YM Carbon Calculator, the continued conversations and work around white supremacy, and a discussion about the immediate needs of climate change and impacts on the most vulnerable especially in rural Maine.

Acadia Meeting is “small” by some standards in the winter months, and has more regulars and occasional visitors during the summer tourist season. It does seem year round to be filled with Friends supporting each other in their personal faith journeys and shared concerns, and I was grateful for the opportunity for this visit so far north.  The distance itself was also a reminder that we as YM Friends often gather at quite a distance from the outposts of our yearly meeting body – and Friends still find a way to be connected to the Quaker Way and find faithful paths in their own context.  While most of these Friends have never attended a YM gathering, they are often active and travel to their Vassalboro Quarterly Meetings and deeply value those connections.

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Free Stuff!

There’s a lot of expensive options out there for editing and creating on the internet – and they work well.  For many Friends however, you may just be getting started and don’t want or need to invest money in this area.

While it’s always a good idea to spend some money on a specific platform or tool that you know will help you, sometimes it’s helpful to experiment with some free resources and tools first.

As I’ve mentioned before:

  • My go-to online tool for graphics is Canva.  I now do use the paid version, which has some nice features I speicfically need.
  • I also recommend Audacity for music editing.
  • For free pictures – Pixabay or Unsplash.
  • I also have often used the free version of WordPress for basic websites.Here’s a great list from Cullen Vance (Facebook) of more free tools!

 3d Modeling/Animation(complex) –
3d Modeling (Simple) – Sketchup
3d Modeling (Voxel/Brick) – MagicaVoxel
3d Modeling (Digital Clay Sculpting) – Sculptris
3d Modeling (in VR) – Google Blocks
Human 3d Model/Armature Generator- MakeHuman
Photo Editing/Maniputaion – GIMP
Digital Painting/ Comics – Krita
Vector Art (like illustrator) – Inkscape
Storyboarding – Storyboarder
Video Game Engine – Unity
Visual Novel Maker w/ no Code – Fungus + Unity
Text Based Game – Twine (
Audio/Sound Recording/ Editing – Audacity
Sheet Music Notation – Musescore
Retro Game music Maker – Bosca Ceoil
Retro Video Game Effects Generator – BFXR
Screen & webcam recording – OBS Studio
Live Streaming (twitch/youtube) – Streamlabs OBS
Video and Audio Converter – Handbrake
2d Animation (Cutout) – Dragonbones Pro, Synfig
2d Animation (drawn) – Blender 2.8, Opentoonz
Stick Figure Animation – Pivot Animator
Stop Motion/Claymation – Stop Motion Studio (mobile only)
Video Editing – Blender (only if you’re desperate)
Flashcards/ Spaced Repetition Learning: Anki
Awesome Websites:
Disraction Free Writing – Writer (bighugelabs)
Script/Playwriting – Amazon Storywriter
Sound Effects Database –
Music for Film/Games –
Pixel Art & Animation – Piskel
Textures and HDRIs for 3D- Hdri Haven
Fonts – Google Fonts,
Learn Coding – Codecademy
Simple Android App Maker – AppInventor (MIT)
Color Palette Generator –
Rhyme Dictionary –

What have you found to be helpful?


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if you have only one prayer… an Uxbridge Thanksgving

“Sympathized deeply and livingly with the seed in the Monthly Meeting at Uxbridge. Found great relief in watering the thirsty.” – Job Scott, Quaker Minister, November 1790. He had just turned 40, and had two years of life left.

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This day the world calls Thanksgiving, as is often my practice, I attended a worship service at the Uxbridge MA Meetinghouse.  The meetinghouse was filled with about 100 people, travelers and locals, gathered in an ecumenical service reminding us all to give thanks in Love for the day and each other.  We were helpfully reminded in one message “if the only prayer you ever say in your life is ‘thank you’, that would suffice (Meister Eckhart).”

There was, as is the tradition here, a time of “Quaker silence” – we were asked to listen to the Inner Teacher, and reflect inwardly. And yet… one Friend, a member of nearby Smithfield Meeting, rose and shared a message.  I’m not sure if it was expected, but it was certainly Spirit-led and ministered to us the gathered body.  We had been reminded earlier that folks often had “varying perspectives” in the world, which of course is true – and to hold those opinions in Love.  I heard this Friend’s message as a prophetic answer to that.  Yes, we must always respond in Love, but there is in fact a moral imperative that we not merely assume all perspectives are equal.  Those centered in the Love of our neighbor, not rising from the seeds of war, are in fact weighted as our path in the Kingdom of God.  The Friend quoted briefly from a Yearly Meeting Book of Discipline that he had found when he arrived.

All thoughtful men and women are torn at heart by the present situation. The savage momentum of war drags us all in its wake. We desire a righteous peace….to preserve our sanity, we become apathetic. In such an atmosphere no true peace can be framed; yet before us we see months of increasing terror. Can those who pay heed to moral laws, can those who follow Christ submit to the plea that the only way is that demanded by military necessity? 

Issued by London Yearly Meeting 1943, during the Second World War

It spoke clearly to the condition of the world, then and now, as mired in the seeds of war.  Here we were, celebrating love and peace and being together – and yet in this moment the prophetic call still rose.  It cannot be otherwise if we are listening faithfully.

This particular Meetinghouse has a powerful history.  Abolitionists, ministers, much Holy work in our world.  However, we do not worship the meetinghouse as idol.  It is the Spirit contained within, the Presence experienced then and now that we gather in the service of.

Before I left the celebration, I headed upstairs.  The light was streaming through the windows into the gallery, which in years past would have been filled many times a week with Friends seeking encouragement and strength.  It was empty, and quiet.  The air itself however had a thick quality of the weight of the history there for me.  It was not a place I would want to stay – instead, in gratitude, I reflected on the this helpful stop on the journey.  While no mere building can provide the answers that are needed – I was grateful to have a moment to (as Meister Eckhart suggested) say “Thank You”.



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