Saturday, 28 April 2007

Citizen as Fool?

Liz Opp (thanks Liz for the suggested change)writes in her blog From spiritual refugee to spiritual citizen

In recent weeks, I have been musing about the phrase "spiritual refugee." While I was travelling in-and-around Boston to get to certain Quaker events, I jotted down this brief phrase:

spiritual refugee -->

spiritual immigrant -->

spiritual citizen

It was a timely post. I have been in and around Quakers for 30 years and have been an Overseer, worked on national committees, been a warden joined, revoked my membership some 25 years ago and yet remain involved. I have had a break for the past two years after a few intense years as a Warden. But two weeks ago reading a non-Quaker blog gave me the nudge to start to reconnect so I leaped into doing a blog and seeking communities to link to. Not found many in the UK yet and the main Quaker web-page seems to need a nudge in this direction. The email I got back seemed to be concerned about moderation rather then pointing me in a direction to hook up with UK friends who blog. But as I write this, a comment appeared that has given me a possible link which I have followed up.

Another sign that my period of exile is coming to an end is that this yesterday a friend rings me out of the blue to ask me to attend our local Quaker Meeting as he is running a group on silence for his local church. Signs aplenty methinks!

Yet as Liz raises, am I still a spiritual immigrant. Strange to say a way of answering that question came in the post this very morning, Roger von Oech is a creative guru who in his book A Whack on the Side of the Head explores the 10 key factors that stop us being creative. With the book comes a set of cards that serve to jolt you out of your thought patterns, and one of these ways is to use the cards as an Oracle. By this is not meant any supernatural appeal but its a tool to use different types of thinking to reflect on a topic. My topic is what would help me re-engage with Friends .

The first card drawn represents the ENVIRONMENT and it explores the external forces surrounding my issues. It is asking how can I be more engaging with Quakers, how can my ideas be of use to them.

Attend Quaker meetings and events to listen and raise my views

Write more so I gain an audience and clarify my thoughts

Champion Friends in other communities

Model my behaviour on Quaker values

This is the MIRROR card and represents resources that I bring and could use for Quakers. It advises me to look for opportunities.

I am engaged with policy making so could help Quakers engage with the political world

I am a Friend by convincement and come to Friends by a non-Christian route so offer links to a wider non spiritual audience

I have come from a poor working class background so offer a window into a world that main stream friends are often unaware of.

This the SHADOW CARD and asks me to look at what I may be avoiding or missing. the drawn card asks me to look at the wider community

Use the insights from the world community in Ministry and link the Meeting to the world

Why am I not using my storytelling links and interests to connect with my interests in Quakers?

Why am I not using my policy interests to link with Quaker campaigns?

This is the CAUTION card asking me what should I watch out for. The card asks to look for the less obvious answer.

Am I concentrating too much on the ideological centre of Quakerism and not enough on its Fellowship

Am I in danger of being arrogant?

Should I seek a buddy to mentor me?

Do I want to belong to a physical meeting?

This is a POWER card. It asks what do I need to do to make it happen. The drawn card asks me what will be the consequences.

I will have to look at the time commitment but it will give me purpose.

I need to awaken old relationships but the years have moved on.

I need to get through the class barrier but this is my barrier?

So some practical ideas emerge to help me move on but what if I think that Citizenship for me is being the "Fool" the one who runs counter to convention, who raises irrelevances, pokes fun at the weighty and serious, mocks the common understanding, questions literalness to jolt us back to when the question and journey was new and the answers and questions not yet fabled

Perhaps the answer is in the Advice and Queries:

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.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Value the words you speak...they are an other's Truth

Laurie Kruczek in her blog I am only average raised being intimated and being overwhelmed...I feel sometimes like I am being dunked underwater, only surfacing when God pulls me up again. Maybe it is the long, drawn out discussions taking place... notations, authors, detailed references... all impossibly out of my conversational reach. I'm a smart girl, and I'm tough, but when all the advanced Quaker debate material starts flowing I think, "This just isn't what I expected. Can't we just simply talk?"...So I must have it wrong. I must be lost and have little chance of finding my blogging way. I honestly don't know if I have the qualifications to post about Quakerism. I am only average, and I wonder if that ever is enough.

I wrote to her, and now to you... never be put off from your journey, I have been around Quakers for 30 years and boy can some of us talk for all our respect for the power of the silence. One member of a meeting I attended was professor of theology, for example, but knowing what to argue isn't the same as having something speak to your condition. Nor is it the same of speaking from God within. Some of the more powerful ministry(apart from silence) often comes from those of us struggling to make sense of the world we live in and the people we share.

Read London (oops Britain)Yearly meeting Advices and Queries No 5. to know where I am coming from.

Take time to learn about other people's experiences of the Light. Remember the importance of the Bible, the writings of Friends and all writings which reveal the ways of God. As you learn from others, can you in turn give freely from what you have gained? While respecting the experiences and opinions of others, do not be afraid to say what you have found and what you value. Appreciate that doubt and questioning can also lead to spiritual growth and to a greater awareness of the Light that is in us all.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

You take a leap and ....

This morning I read a blog about the writer's spiritual journey and it reminded me that I have been frozen or suspended in mine since I stopped being a Warden of an historical Meeting House in the south of England. I wrote my "map" in my Books and Reading Blog. After reflection I decided to start a Quaker blog as a way of connecting with the wider Quaker community. If refreshed here then I could re-engage with the local community.

But how? Searching London (oops Britain)Yearly meeting offer no links to the WWQ community but a goggle got me a link with ROBIN M whose pages lead me to various other sites. Then to and the realisation that I now had a "Meeting" to explore. Ironically 2-3 weeks ago I had no knowledge about Blogs or live feeds and now have key feeds set up and 2 blogs. Its too early to say where the interesting conversations will lead and who I will have them with. But I can and I will.

Where the light shines

I am not one to dwell on may have beens. This morning in my book blog I realised that it was time to reconnect with Friends and Radical Quakerism. I have made the first steps by linking up live feeds to a range of blog sites. This means I can also dive into the debates and issues again. Who knows, today's toe dipping may lead to tomorrow's deep dive. Hence this new blog is going to have occasional reflections and thoughts about George Fox, a founder of Quakerism , key question.

You will say, Christ said this, and the Apostles say this, but what can you say? Are you a child of Light, that walks in the Light, and when you speak is it inwardly from God?

At its simplest, does your experience of life enable you to make difference?