March 17, 2005

Let our lives speak, let ourselves speak

Robin responded to the post about passing Quakerism on, which in turn has prompted me to expand on just how experienced Friends might nurture and nourish the Quakerism developing in others--and in one another.

Robin writes:

...we will have to be more explicit in our articulation of our faith for our young people and all newcomers. Since (in my Meeting) most of us did not grow up Quaker and those who did are largely unimpressed with the religious education they received, we will have to try to be very clear, if not hyper-conscious, about what we believe so that we can be clear as we teach it to others.
In the past year or two, I have chosen to make my Quaker faith and practice more transparent because of my belief and concern that a vibrant Quakerism is transmitted effectively, in part, when experienced Friends begin speaking openly about our experiences as Friends. When have we felt and known the Divine? How have we navigated through a crisis of faith? What does it mean to test a leading and how do we know if we are well led? What does it mean, to mind the Light?

Robin's comments remind me of parts of FGC's Minute of Purpose and Long Term Plan. The entire document is worth reading, in my opinion, but I'll pull out two parts that are reflected in Robin's words.

First, in its Minute of Purpose, Friends General Conference states
...It is our experience that:

• Faith is based on direct experience of God.

• Our lives witness to this experience individually and corporately.

• By answering that of God in everyone, we build and sustain inclusive community.
FGC, as an organization, has found clearness in lifting up and sharing its own corporate experience among those meetings affiliated with it, not as a creed or statement of faith, but as a statement of its understanding of from where its own Quaker identity emerges. Or at least, that's how I understand this minute.

Also, there is this piece later in the Long Term Plan:
GOAL IV - Articulate, communicate and model core experiences, values and principles of Friends, such as the direct experience of God, the miracle of the gathered meeting, the meeting for worship for business, the balancing of individual leadings with corporate discernment, and the call to live and witness to our faith.
Those of you reading me might pick up on my enthusiasm for and endorsement of these ideas. *wink*

But our "articulating, communicating, and modeling" must also be done tenderly and mindfully, and preferably in unity with an understanding of how and when we are so led, lest the pendulum swing too far the other way.

Not every Friend is called to minister publicly or with words; not every moment is an opening into which we are meant to speak or act. Yet... Can we begin to recognize, and are we faithful to, the inward prompt to act, to speak, even within our Quaker communities and with one another?

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