Let us try what Love will do.This popular quotation from William Penn is a favorite of mine. For one thing, in the secular world, I have learned to avoid the use of the word "try," as in "Try not to read this sentence."
Now, now: you either did read the sentence or you didn't. You didn't just "try."
1. Take a pen or pencil in your hand.
2. Try to drop it.
You likely eitiher DID drop it or you DIDN'T drop it. There is no "try."
The use of the word "try" in William Penn's quote, Let us try what Love will do, however, means "put to the test" or "experiment with." Here is a story where my "trying Love"--or where Love has tried me--has helped me understand and appreciate the power of the practice.
A number of years ago, maybe four or maybe eight, I struggled and wrestled and labored with a Friend who viewed Quakerism and God and the world in a very different way from how I did. The more I sought to understand the Friend, his world view, and his theology, the more knotted my relationship with this Friend became.
Each time the Friend and I sat at a meal or attended an adult education session, my heart ached at the degree to which we disagreed--about where God was leading the meeting around a specific decision, about what the nature of worship was, about how Friends were to participate in the life of the meeting.
Some times I left our interaction with much anger; other times I left while weeping.
I could not see the way out; I could not see the way forward. And ultimately, I simply removed myself from the Friend's presence entirely as best I could. In a big urban meeting, that's pretty easy to do.
At the time that I was removing myself, I unknowingly was also giving the situation, the "knot" of the relationship, over to God. I had tugged at it, pulled at it, gnawed at it as much as I was going to. I had "tried" to resolve it on my own, and my efforts were fruitless.
Then, a few years went by. Years.
At that time, it happened that another Friend in the meeting had lost her partner to cancer, and there was a large memorial/reception/wake held. People were coming and going--relatives, neighbors, friends and friends of friends. And more than a few Quakers.
The house where the gathering was held was spacious, and it was only on my way out that I ran into the Friend whose presence I had been avoiding. I had thought to keep on walking but something deeper within me said not to. I greeted the Friend, and we spoke amiably--and I thought, comfortably--about how we were each doing, what we were each up to.
When I headed to the car a few minutes later, I reflected on that little "miracle-mystery": Without doing anything consciously at my end, I was quietly and unexpectedly reconciled with this Friend, who perhaps knew nothing of my own angst that had preceded that particular moment.
Since that reception/wake, the Friend and I continue to cross paths in the meeting. Though our respective views on God and Quakerism continue to differ, my heart remains softened and I feel I have been given a gift of the Spirit.