I haven't posted for a while because of a long trip I was on... which unfortunately involved a fairly significant illness and a long recovery process. Not for me: I was the caregiver.
An unexpected bonus, if you could call it that, was spending 12 days at my parents' place... and having a visit from my brother and his girlfriend. The two of them had changed their New Year's plans to be in New Hampshire and instead came into New Jersey to provide support to us wayward travelers.
Another unexpected result was an opportunity, with fellow blogger Anj, who happened to read my earlier post, went to Summit-Chatham Meeting that First Day, heard an announcement about what I was dealing with, and called me with an offer of support.
I took her up on her offer and we ended up getting together for about an hour--a very much needed break and bit of fellowship for me. She and I stayed in touch by phone as time went on: I'd say another friendship has been born, thanks to the Quaker blogosphere! (Hi, Anj!)
Thanks, too, to Claire and Kay from Summit-Chatham Meeting: they bouyed me with their kindness and listening presence early on in the process.
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During the first seven days since I've been home, I received two pieces of communication from two different long-time Friends that referenced what in Buddhism is known as a koan: a paradoxical question or statement that aids in meditation or reflection (my paraphrase).
The first case was a Friend who was reflecting on her reaction to an address given by a Rwandan Friend about the genocide there. She explained, as I recall, that she was aware of the desire to want to fix the situation and take away the hurt, while also being aware of the need to feel her feelings and live into the discomfort of knowing far more about Rwanda than she had before.
The second case was another Friend who serves on a planning committee for an upcoming committee retreat. The committee lifted up a paradox about the condition of the monthly meeting that might serve as a focus point for the retreat, and the Friend suggested that the committee consider the situation as a koan--that is, something to consider rather than to fix.
Both these Friends have a long tenure among Friends... and yet they looked to a tradition outside of Quakerism for a phrase or a practice that spoke to what they wanted to articulate. What concerns me, though, is that Quakerism does have phrases and practices that parallel those within Buddhism:
living into the Cross;What does it say about the condition of our meetings and of our Religious Society when we ourselves don't know enough about our own tradition that we go reaching into another faith tradition...?
standing still in and submitting ourselves to the Light;
being exercised by the Spirit.
Such lack of knowledge brings to mind for me what I see as the underlying, unstated reasons for introducing and promoting a "Quaker sweatlodge":
We Quaker adults have lost the ability to convey our faith, our beliefs, and our practices in meaningful ways to our Quaker youth.And religion, like nature, abhors a vacuum. We'll fill the gaps of our knowledge with whatever else in within our grasp, with the best of intentions.
To be fair, I myself was guilty of this for a number of years before I began reading the writings of even a few early Friends.
Here is what I affirm today:
Quakerism is not lacking; our understanding of it is.Blessings,