Today after an adult education program called "Quakerism Then and Now," I was driving home and yearning for Friends to be able to speak to the connections between our contemporary practice and the roots of faith. I guess that's why the phrase "There and back again," borrowed from a certain popular Hobbit, came to me:
I am hungry for more Friends to return to early Friends about the origin of our testimonies and practices--"There"--so that we might corporately keep close(r) to the roots of our faith today--"and back again."
This morning I listened to Friends identify what is meant by simplicity; what in our life as Friends is "simple" today, and what in our life is "complex."
On the "simple" list were items like:
a walk in the woodsOn the "complex" list were:
an easy recipe
direct contact to help people.
televisionOn the surface, I can agree with these items, but I had a rising concern that this presentation of what is simple and what is not is disconnected from and falls short of what early Friends understood and practiced in terms of simplicity.
Thankfully, another Friend from the worship group in which I participate lifted up that, for him, that which is simple has the leading of the Divine, and that which is complex often does not (at least, this is how I remember the Friend's contribution, anyway).
Little else was said about the historical roots of simplicity among Friends, which I have come to understand include the stripping away of all that is "not God" so that what is left is only "of God," and the removal of ornate adornments and empty rituals in order to enhance the immediate and direct connection to the Divine.
I was stretched to be still during that hour this morning. I fear I didn't do well in that regard, and I left before the hour was completed as a result.
As I drove away from that adult education program, I found myself revisiting the question of what the kernel, the heart of the ministry I carry is. What came to me is this:
There and back again:Blessings,
Renewing and conveying my Quaker faith.
UPDATE: Over at Embracing Complexity, Contemplative Scholar expands on her comment below and offers resources about testing our leadings.