This morning I began to come to terms with my schedule this month. It's filled with lots of Quaker goodies, but I worry that I've got a bit too much on my plate.
The focus of the retreat is "to explore the historic roots of Quaker ministry and how this tradition, which is our inheritance, may be serviceable to Friends called to ministry in the 21st century."*
Now, I personally know some Liberal Friends who insist that we have nothing to learn from the past since our times are so very different from that of early Friends. But I also know that I have grown in many ways--all for the better, from what I can tell!--by having been exposed to just a small portion of the writings of early Friends.
I am curious to hear what Marty and others will offer, regarding our "inheritance" and how we either squander it or continue to be good stewards of it for the benefit of current and future generations.
At last count, we had nearly twenty of us going on the trip--including six children under the age of 11.
It came about when there was a cancellation for March 29, along with an expressed interest from Friends to share more with one another about how we engage in worship. One thing I'm looking forward to is working with an aging Friend who has quietly been encouraging some of us to continue to speak openly about our faith tradition and our Quaker heritage.
I've begun going more carefully through Bill Taber's pamphlet, Four Doors to Meeting for Worship, jotting down queries that arise out of the text and making note of possible quotations and excerpts to lift up. Between Jack and me, I'm guessing we'll do less speaking and more listening, drawing out Friends to speak about their own experience of traveling through what Bill calls the Door Inward and the Door Within, moving from taking in the room to waiting upon the Lord...
One theme was a desire to understand more about Quakerism:
We've been to worship, we've gone to Meeting for Worship for Business, we attended Quakerism 101--but we know that there's more to Quakerism and we're not sure how to learn what that More is...
Well, that day, a seed got planted in me, and I've begun the process of arranging a booktable through FGC's QuakerBooks. I've never orchestrated this sort of thing in the past, but I've seen the results: marvelous titles and authors literally at people's fingertips, and usually with a simple self-checkout procedure, allowing for cash, checks, and even credit cards.
Over the years, a few bloggers have identified Quaker books that have been meaningful to them, for example within the comments of this old blogpost of Claire's, as well as in this post of Robin's.
I also came across an extensive reading list that is based on the reader's personal experience and length of time among Friends. Unfortunately, this extensive list is a bit of a bear to slog through, but if you've got the time and patience, it's worth it.
Anyway, I mention all of this because if you have your own suggestions about Quaker books for such an event, please add them to the comments. I've been drawing on a few local Friends for their input, too, so that way my own biases and blindspots as to what is or isn't worthwhile reading will be minimized. I mean, I hate to admit it, but it never occurred to me to have a few Bibles for sale!
What I'm personally pleased about, this year in particular, is the number of "explicitly Quaker" workshops that are being offered in 2009. In addition, I'm excited by some of the evening plenary speakers, Ben Pink Dandelion and Shane "Jesus for President" Claiborne in particular.
As for decisions about Gathering, they involve registering for a workshop and identifying a meal plan and housing option that work best for our budget. Cha-ching...
I've had to take about a week's time away from it in order to focus on other things that had been on hold (see above!), but I hope to get back to it in-between trips. The next big step in this particular project involves sorting through the recommended posts, prioritizing them in some manner, and then see how I'm led. Whew!
I look forward to reporting back after (or in-between) my Quaker travels.
*From the letter of invitation.