August 31, 2007

Faithfulness and obedience

In recent weeks, I've been holding the concepts of faithfulness and obedience side by side. I sense intuitively--or maybe it's that I know experimentally--that the two are different in some way, and I haven't been quite ready to explore how.

And then I came across a short post from Friendly Mama, in which Mary Linda reflects on her own inward turning to a readiness of being obedient and of service.

Here's an excerpt of a comment I left:

Obedience has been a word that has been "traveling" with me, too, of late....

Like you, I went through a subtle but important turning point in my faith journey among Friends, during which I shifted from "participating in the meeting" to "offering myself to the Spirit," making myself available to serve.

Need I say that my life as a Friend really hasn't been the same since...?!
The distinction feels important to me, so I'm going to take a whack at pulling the threads apart and see what comes of it.

It seems to me that it is a weightier matter to be obedient than it is to be faithful, though both are important within Quakerism. At first glance, I might attribute the sense of weightiness to the frequency with which these two words are used among Friends: it's almost as though the less frequent a word is used (i.e. "obedience"), the more weight is given to it.

The early query, which still is used here and there among Friends today, is "Was thee faithful, did thee yield?" It wasn't "Was thee obedient, did thee yield?"

Is there a reason why the one query exists in Quaker vernacular but not the other?

Is there an implied greater degree of difficulty, that to lay aside one's own ambition in order to be obedient is more difficult when compared to acting faithfully to an inward prompt, for example?

Does the faithful act already draw upon an unspoken or innate "alignment" between what we personally wish to pursue and what we understand God asks or instructs us to pursue? Does being obedient entail acknowledging and feeling our inner tantrum in the face of recognizing that God wants us to do the very thing we don't want to do?

So when it is "compared" to faithfulness, does obedience point to more intense labor and wrestling before we finally yield, before our own will is broken in order that we might follow God's? Does obedience require more of us--more humility and being low in order to allow ourselves to become an instrument of the Spirit?

Of course, the questions and the answers to them are rather insignificant in the Big Picture. It is far more important that we live into being faithful and obedient servants than it is to understand why or how faithfulness and obedience differ.

But these questions have been with me, and now they are with you as well. Thanks, as always, for reading me.


August 27, 2007

Treasuring one another through difficulty

Recently in worship at the monthly meeting, I spent much time turning over in my mind a comment that a Friend had emailed me.

The situation that led to the comment involved a number of things, including an interaction with that same Friend from a few years prior, a subsequent mutual look at our "emotional leftovers" from then, and more recently, a request I made to the Friend in which I sought clarification about possible committee service.

For me, my request was completely detached from the initial interaction and "emotional leftovers" conversation, but for the other Friend, they remained intertwined, and the Friend expressed concerns to me about how I engage in corporate process.

This new twist has made me wonder whose responsibility it is to evaluate and/or affirm any sort of transformation or "conversion of manners" that I myself may have experienced.

In my own heart, I know that such evaluation is between me and my Guide. But as a human being who sometimes loses her spiritual grounding, it often happens that I worry about what some Friends may think of me if I don't "see things their way."

So in my worship yesterday, I found myself settling into a few things:

A Query:

Do we treasure one another, even during difficulties between us? Do we reflect on a person's gifts and history of being faithful before we confront that person? Are we prepared to affirm a person's measure of Light and give that person space to grow into greater Light?

A Reminder:
Stay close to the root . . . Friends help Friends mind the Light . . . Stand still in the Light, submit to it, let it search you . . .

A Self-Check:
Have I allowed myself to be thoroughly searched by the Light for any wrongdoing I may have done regarding this particular situation? . . . What or who do I have in the Center right now? . . . To what or to whom am I giving over my power, my sense of self-worth? . . .What or who seems to be impacting my self-esteem and capacity for self-love?

Contemplation and Imagining:
I see God standing in front of me, looking into my eyes, saying nothing, and sending me only Love.

I melt. My heart is made tender, and I wonder how I will face Friends who may ask me to engage with them about concerns I thought had been put to rest. How might I answer to and call out that of God within others, whether or not they are capable of answering to and calling out that of God within me?
God, thank you for helping me remember who my Shepherd is, my Guide, and my Inward Teacher.


August 17, 2007

IYM(C) 2007, part III:
Marshall Massey

The final post of the 2007 series on the annual sessions of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative).

In addition to looking forward to attending the business sessions, I was also eager and curious to hear Marshall Massey speak to the yearly meeting about his 2006 walk and journey* from Omaha, Nebraska to Baltimore Yearly Meeting's annual sessions, held in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Marshall was invited to be a plenary speaker, sharing what he was given during his trek.

Since Marshall and I had met each other during other IYM(C) events and annual sessions, it was easy to spot him when I arrived at Scattergood, and we shared a few meals together during the week.

Prior to his evening address, he explained to me that he would be changing into a suit and tie--which really caught me off-guard. Since during our meals together, Marshall had already made it clear to me how much he values honesty and directness, I took a breath and said something like, "A suit and tie? That doesn't seem very humble, Marshall." (My guess is that Marshall may remember more precisely what I said... UPDATE: Check Marshall's comment for more about dress among Friends.)

Marshall took the time to explain to me that Conservative Friends--perhaps other Friends as well--used to dress differently... I can't remember now if he said "for all the evening sessions" or "when they gave a presentation to the body." In the end, since Marshall has been among IYM(C) for a number of years longer than I have (!), I let it go and would wait to see how Friends would respond that evening.

Well, for one thing, when I saw Marshall that night, I realized that what I had pictured when he had said "suit and tie" was a business executive would wear: a power suit, navy blue, maybe even double-breasted, a red tie to boot. Instead, he was dressed in a casual suit and his tie was certainly not red. I let it go and settled in.

Marshall began by explaining that his task as he understood it was to "render an account of the journey"--to make himself accountable to the yearly meeting that had provided him a travel minute, and not just tell a story of how he got from one place to another. Then he lifted up two questions from early Friends (CORRECTION by Marshall: from Fran Taber) by which his sharing would be framed:

How has the Lord dealt with thee since last we met?


What is the teaching given thee for us?
Marshall spoke about the invitation he received from Baltimore Yearly Meeting's Environmental Committee, to help the committee bring forward its environmental concerns to the attention of the yearly meeting.

He also explained why he was considered in the first place to be a plenary speaker, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that he had been first a plenary speaker for Pacific Yearly Meeting and then a plenary speaker during the FGC Gathering, both in the mid- and late-1980s, addressing a similar concern about care for the earth and the environment.

In describing a bit about his discernment process as it related to making the trek to Virginia where sessions would be held, Marshall explained that he heard from the Spirit: "If you walk the distance, you will be given what you need to say."

And Marshall did his best to be faithful and obedient to that prompt.

Marshall broke his trek down into three parts: He spoke about the first part of his trek was focused on walking and on being with God. The second part was more about listening, listening to God. And the third part was about preparing, focusing on the query, What have I been given to share with Baltimore Yearly Meeting?

He spoke plainly about his body giving out and his need to complete his trek by car, but in such a way that he still was doing a fair amount of walking. "The obedience mattered more than the form of the walk," Marshall offered.

The one thing that has stayed with me, as Marshall described some of the experiences he had, meeting with small groups of Friends as he traveled, is that individual changes in behavior is not enough to change the course we are on in regards to care for the earth and the environment.
"We need to think very carefully about corporate witness," Marshall said. "Because a community that lives together can model for others what is possible."
He referenced the small community in northeastern Iowa that is living completely off the grid, living a life of voluntary simplicity. (One or two nights earlier, we had heard from a couple who is part of both IYM(C) and this off-the-grid community.)

He also offered five possibilities for a corporate witness towards caring for the earth and for the environment:
  • Provide for full-time lobbying on behalf of Quakers for environmental stewardship, much in the same manner as Friends Committee on National Legislation does for legislative prioritizing.

  • Provide for television ads about "the way out" of our current environmental downward spiral. (Marshall specifically mentioned "ads on Fox TV")

  • Begin to lay the foundations now for how to help the future's homeless population, as more natural disasters devastate more of our country and leave more of the land unliveable.

  • Create programs to get our society away from dependence on fossil fuels and the grid.

  • Re-do community housing in such a way so as to include wildlife shelters and natural habitats for all God's creation.
  • (Marshall, I invite you to correct or expand on these five points: you obviously said much more than what I was able to take down in my notebook...)

    What stayed with me is not so much these five specific possibilities for witnessing as a faith community. Rather, what stayed with me is the realization that if we continue to act as individuals but live in the same overall paradigm; if we continue only to conserve energy and conserve fuel, we are still ultimately driving on the same highway heading to the same perilous cliff. It's just that we are driving there at a much slower speed, but the end we will meet is the same.

    What Marshall lifts up is that we need to get off the road entirely. And not just one by one. We will need each other to model the way forward and to offer support as we go through major changes in lifestyle, in consumerism, in energy consumption.

    If I am left on my own to adapt to a situation that forever seems "over there" and disconnected from myself, I will be less likely to change my ways. But if I am part of a community-wide effort and have support to adapt to an entirely new way of life, in response to a situation that is "right here," I will be more likely to get onboard and be successful in changing and adapting.

    It's a bit of a daunting challenge, and Marshall did well to encourage us to think of where might be "a nucleus of a wider community that could bear witness" to how to live in a self-sustaining community. Some Friends immediately thought of Scattergood itself as being close to that sort of public witness, much like the small community in northeastern Iowa.

    He also reminded us loaves and fishes: We often have more resources than we think, if we but look around and see the world with new glasses.

    My own sense, though, is that there is more for IYM(C), for myself, and for many other faith communities around the globe to hear and experience before we make the necessary paradigm shift. We have not yet had that conversion experience that will lead us to the required "conversion of manners." But sometimes the necessary shift is arrived at by intermediate changes and cumulative experiences, that suddenly "add up" to a new way of being.

    I personally will count Marshall Massey's address among those experiences for myself. I have been given something important to think about and to grow into...


    *Entries are in reverse chronological order.

    Iowa Conservative Sessions 2007, Part I and Part II
    Learning the game Telephone Pictionary at 2007 sessions of IYM(C)

    August 15, 2007

    Iowa Conservative sessions 2007,
    Part II

    ...Continuing from where I left off...

    Epistles. During its annual sessions, Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) reads excerpts from a variety of epistles that have been received from around the world.

    I was struck by what I heard because I felt that the excerpts were of Friends who were bearing witness to the movement of the Spirit, whether responding to the wrestling that continues among more liberal Friends who are a part of FUM, or lifting up prophetic voices.

    There was no way for me to record what each excerpt held because I was so focused on just receiving and taking in what I was hearing... I did manage to make a list of many of the yearly meetings from which we heard, though:
  • Holland
  • Kenya
  • Baltimore
  • Japan
  • Illinois
  • Southeastern
  • New England
  • Philadelphia
  • Germany
  • There were probably a few other yearly meetings we heard from, but as I sat there and listened, I realized that these excerpts perhaps helped "place" IYM(C) in the wider context of the Religious Society of Friends.

    What I mean by that, in part, is that IYM(C) isn't itself directly connected to Friends United Meeting or German Friends or Friends in the Netherlands, and yet it opens itself to receive news of what is on the hearts of Friends everywhere. The yearly meeting gains a sense of connection and of being part of a religious body larger than itself.

    By extension, it is easier for me to imagine, then, why these Friends value intervisitation so highly. Intervisitation provides a similar though unspoken message that welcoming other Friends and visitors from beyond our own borders is a part of our responsibility of being members one of another. What one part of the body is experiencing and reporting may have a direct impact on what another part of the body is going through or may go through over time.

    Scattergood ties. This year, my third consecutive year of attending IYM(C) sessions, I found I have a growing appreciation for Scattergood School and its ties to the yearly meeting. For one thing, there is a farm that is part of the school, and Friends are reminded that the farm provides much of the meat, eggs, and produce that we eat during the week.

    (The freshly picked corn-on-the-cob was the best corn I've had in years!)

    For another thing, the reports that are related to Scattergood lift up the "field experience" the students receive. The hands-on experience is built into the curriculum, and students work the farm and school grounds in any number of ways. Here are examples, pulled from the 2006 report:
    Students have weeded rows, witnessed births, cared for young birds, processed produce, reseeded parts of the prairie, put in new fencing, gleaned fields, written grants, tested sheep feces for parasitic cysts... They are involved... through biology and advanced biology classes, farm project and farm crew, chicken and egg crew, poultry project and food preservation project...

    --2006 Scattergood Farm Report
    It's clear that there is a symbiotic relationship between the school and the farm, and this year it became clearer to me that there is a strong relationship between the farm (and therefore the school) and the local community. Items from the farm are taken into town and sold to local stores, for example, so the farm and school are doing its own part of outreach.. and by extension, Iowa Friends are made a bit more visible as well.

    (FYI - I've written more about the connection of the yearly meeting with Scattergood in one of last year's posts.)

    So it is that I too am finding a fondness in my heart for Scattergood, because I see some of the fruit it bears each year: not in the current students but in the teachers, administrators, and fFriends of the school who attend these annual sessions... and in the many older Friends in the yearly meeting who themselves were students years ago.

    Two other "take-aways." In my small notebook where I jotted my thoughts during sessions, I have these two items:
    Iowa Yearly Meeting is, as a body, skewed/directed more than my own yearly meeting is, toward faith-in-action. Not because it's a good idea but because Friends are so convinced/convicted by the movement of the Spirit.


    In the business sessions I have experienced, there seems to be a qualitative difference between these Conservative Friends and Liberal Friends. Sometimes among Liberal Friends, as we struggle to find the way forward, I imagine we are all pointing in different directions. But during these and other sessions of IYM(C), there is more often a sense of a collective "reaching together"--in the same direction, seeking unity with God's will.

    P.S. I believe I have one more post in me, regarding these sessions: comments on Marshall Massey's report to the yearly meeting.

    Iowa Conservative Sessions 2007: Part I and Part III: Marshall Massey
    Learning the game Telephone Pictionary at 2007 sessions of IYM(C)

    August 9, 2007

    Telephone Pictionary
    IYM(C) 2007

    One evening during this year's annual sessions of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative), a group of Friends gathered for games of all sorts--card games, board games, and even Friendly made-up games.

    One such game I was introduced to is called Telephone Pictionary, which emerged (as I understood it) out of Yahara Friends (currently Preparative) Meeting.

    You might readily imagine the two major components of the game:

    1. Something having to do with passing a message from one person to the next, to see if you end up with the same message with which you started (Telephone); and

    2. Something having to do with drawing a picture that represents an object and hoping that another person guesses what it is you are drawing (Pictionary).

    I think the group had eight or nine Friends, all seated around a long table. We tore up MANY blank pieces of paper, which were divided into small stacks for each of us, and everyone found a pen or pencil to use. Then we were given the instruction to think of a common phrase, a popular saying, a proverb, a short Bible verse.

    Each of us then wrote whatever the phrase or saying was on our own sheet of paper, turned it upside down, and passed it one person to the left, so everyone had their right-hand neighbor's paper.

    Then we turned over the paper we had just received, read what was there, turned it back over so others couldn't see it, grabbed another blank piece of paper, and proceeded to draw a representation of that phrase, verse, or saying.

    When we were done, then we turned our own drawing over, face down on top of the already-face-down quote from our neighbor. And once again we each passed our drawing, resting on top of the original quote, one person to the left, and we each received a new item from our neighbor to the right.

    Here's where it gets tricky:

    At this point, all the players must be diligent about turning over only the piece of paper that rests on TOP of the mini-pile that is passed to them. No fair peeking at the other pieces of paper!

    Next, each player is required to look at the drawing that their right-hand neighbor had just sketched (based on the original phrase from two neighbors down) and write a phrase that they think the drawing represents.

    And of course when done, turn the paper with the drawing over, and then place the newly written guessed-at phrase upside-down on the pile as well. Pass all mini-piles one person to the left; receive a new mini-pile from your right-hand neighbor.

    So the rhythm of the game should be:

    WRITE PHRASE - flip over - pass along/receive

    Look at phrase - DRAW - flip over - pass along/receive

    Look at drawing - flip over - WRITE PHRASE - flip over - pass/receive

    Look at new phrase - flip over- DRAW - flip over - pass/receive

    Look at new drawing - flip over - WRITE - flip over - pass/receive
    The game continues until all the mini-piles have made a complete circle and end up where they began. (Actually, you can stop whenever you are ready for what I call The Reveal. Just be sure that the piles end up with the originator of the phrase.)

    For the "reveal," it's fun for everyone to turn over her or his own pile at the same time, first looking at the end result and then taking a minute to look over the progression that occurred, from phrase to drawing to phrase... Then be sure to take turns, one person at a time, showing everyone else the progression from how things started to how things ended.

    My own contribution and its related sequence started and ended like this:

    START: Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
    FINISH: The presence in our midst.

    In-between were beautiful drawings of an oblong figure sitting atop some high-up structure. But by the end, the drawings became less egg-like and more... ambiguous. So did the structure. Hence the end result.

    The beauty of the game rests in a number of aspects:

    1. Children and adults can play together. There is very little set-up involved and very few rules.

    2. There is no upper limit as to how many can play, because the game can stop at any point. Just return the mini-piles of paper to the correct person when you stop!

    3. Everyone is engaged all the time.

    4. If a player doesn't like to draw, she or he doesn't have to draw all the time. Alternately, if a player doesn't like to guess at words, she or he doesn't have to do that all the time.

    5. There are no losers.

    6. There is much laughter.

    I can't wait to share this game at the next party I go to!


    P.S. While doing a search for "Telephone" and "Pictionary," I came upon an actual link to this very game (though it goes by a variety of other names, it turns out). And here I thought Wisconsin Friends had really hit on something unique!

    Iowa Conservative Sessions 2007: Part I; Part II; and Part III: Marshall Massey

    August 8, 2007

    Iowa Conservative sessions 2007
    Part I


    This summer was the third consecutive year I attended the annual sessions of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). Though my membership is at a monthly meeting where I am still active and which is a part of Northern Yearly Meeting, and though the worship group where I also worship remains unaffiliated currently, my spiritual affinity continues among Conservative Friends.

    Whether it is because I am that much more familiar with how things are done at IYM(C), or because I have had a particularly busy summer, or because of something else entirely, I found this year's sessions to be even-keeled. I had no "Wow, cool!" moments as I have had the other two years, but neither have I had any disillusioning "Eew, yuck!" moments. Maybe that accounts for my slowness to blog about my experiences, and for having a series of "tidbits" to offer.

    An invitation. The evening I had arrived, I sat underneath the large tree around which a circular bench was built any number of years ago. I was chatting with a Friend who I had seen at sessions the other two years and whose parents were long-time attenders of the yearly meeting. One of the Friends who helps arrange for and carry out the sessions this year approached the two of us from behind, put a hand on our shoulders, and said, "How would you both like to serve on the Exercise Committee?"

    Here's Iowa's practice: Every year during annual sessions, the Yearly Meeting appoints an Exercise Committee to record the vocal ministry that arises during times of waiting worship as well as during Meetings for Worship with attention to Business--should something arise during business session that feels like spiritual counsel to the body. The committee gathers from time to time during sessions to compare notes on what was said and what the sense was of what the Spirit was intending for the body--how the body is exercised by the Spirit. Or such is my understanding, anyway.

    Jeff and I looked at each other and shrugged. Jeff was quick to say, "Sure, I can do that." At first I added my own, "Sure." Then a half-beat later, before the Friend released her hand from our shoulders, I asked, "Is there any concern that I'm not affiliated with the yearly meeting?"

    The Friend stood upright and said with a smile, "Liz, anyone can hear the Voice of God!"

    It was just the right sort of committee to start to get involved in the life of the yearly meeting: I got to know a handful of Friends a bit better through the committee service, and I knew the work was completely done by the time yearly meeting ended!

    Reminders of our roots. As we moved from our opening worship on Fourth Day and moved into the taking up of the business of the yearly meeting, the assistant clerk read this quote from William Penn's Primitive Christianity Revived:
    That which the people called Quakers lay down as a main fundamental in religion is this— That God, through Christ, hath placed a principle in every man, to inform him of his duty, and to enable him to do it; and that those that live up to this principle are the people of God, and those that live in disobedience to it, are not God's people, whatever name they may bear, or profession they may make of religion. This is their ancient, first, and standing testimony: with this they began, and this they bore, and do bear to the world.
    I was struck to hear that the "main fundamental" is that God "[has] placed a principle in [us]" which we strive to to live up to--and that this is in fact the "ancient, first, and standing testimony" from which the Quaker faith and the other testimonies among Friends emerge.

    Hearing these words was one of those times when I realized that I knew something experientially, intuitively, and viscerally--that the basis of all Friends' testimonies are an outgrowth of this single one--before I understood that there were already words out there that described my own understanding.

    Then there was this additional quote, lifted up another time during MfWfB, and also by William Penn:
    "A good End cannot sanctify evil Means; nor must we ever do Evil, that Good may come of it.”
    We were reminded of this quote when the yearly meeting considered approving a minute that supported the work of the Quaker Initiative to End Torture (QUIT), when Friends were wrestling with the intention of the minute, which in part to say that it is never right to use torture, regardless of the end result (e.g. acquiring information that is deemed "necessary").

    A third time when I was struck by the call to remember some of our early roots was when the yearly meeting again took up the question of responding to immigration in the U.S. (see my 2006 IYMC post, about halfway down).

    This year's report from the Peace and Social Concerns Committee--which meets everyday during sessions--lifted up as example how John Woolman stepped out of the existing paradigm of slavery in order to call Friends to work towards abolition. The committee called on the yearly meeting to step outside of the existing paradigm of whether to regulate or legalize immigration and work towards fulfilling a vision in which all people live into a decent life, and all nations have trade policies that would in effect help bring that vision to fruition.

    Of course, words remain words unless and until the actions of the individual and of the body come into play. Still, I consider important and relevant the step of finding the words that clearly express the burden we carry, the vision we hold, the yearnings we feel.

    And I won't be surprised at all if in 2008 the yearly meeting hears again from the Peace and Social Concerns Committee on this or related issues.


    NEXT UP: Impact of epistles; a summary of Marshall Massey's accounting to the yearly meeting; a few other things, perhaps.

    Iowa Conservative Sessions 2007: Part II and Part III: Marshall Massey
    Learning the game Telephone Pictionary at 2007 sessions of IYM(C)

    August 4, 2007

    Some threads of who/what Convergent Friends are

    This is a cross-post from a comment I made on Robin's post, in which she seeks a short-hand to explain to Friends just who or what Convergent Friends are:
    "people who are engaged in the renewal movement within the Religious Society of Friends, across all the branches of Friends."
    As Robin mentions in a reply to a comment on her post, it is a challenge to consider and craft a definition that isn't simply a perfect reflection of me!

    I've made a brief comment on Martin's post already but I realize I wanted to respond here as well.

    I'm not sure this "short explanation" goes far enough or is specific enough. I'm thinking back to the "components" of the word convergent that Robin offered originally: emergent and conservative--as in, conservation of the faith and its practice.

    Is there a way to include these in even a broad explanation? For example:
    Convergent Friends are those who (1) are engaged in the emergence of the renewal movement that is occurring across the branches of the RSoF; (2) have a concern for exploring, conserving, and restoring what contributes to a vibrant, cohesive, intergenerational Quakerism; (3) are dedicated to re-examining and wrestling with our faith tradition's roots and practices; and (4) are not Christophobic, anti-Universalism, etc.
    Okay, so it's a mouthful but it was a helpful exercise for ME, anyway, to pull out some of the threads, as Martin had done in a much earlier post on Quaker Ranter.



    Martin's detailed post on the emergent church and Quaker renewal. (Ninth Month 2003)

    Robin's original definition of convergent. (First Month 2006)

    Robin's first re-consideration of the definition of convergent. (Third Month 2007)

    Robin's second consideration of the definition of convergent. (Seventh Month 2007)

    Martin's 2007 post on examining Robin's short explanation. (Seventh Month 2007)

    Martin's subsequent post in reply to a Conservative Friend's comment, about how Ohio Yearly Meeting can help advance the conversation about renewal of some parts of our Quaker tradition. (Eighth Month 2007)

    August 2, 2007

    Seeking a definition of "opportunity"


    During a conversation tonight with a Friend, we stumbled across the word "opportunity," which is a word I have seen and heard Friends use in a way that differs from its secular use... but the Friend with whom I was speaking--and who has a longer history among Friends than I do--hadn't heard it before in a Quaker context.

    So I thought I'd poll the Quaker blogosphere:

    When have you heard, seen, or used the word "opportunity" in a way that differs from the secular meaning?

    What working definition would you give it?

    Do you have any knowledge of when or where this word appears in any Quaker texts...?

    Do you have any other comments or thoughts about the use or meaning or origin of the word "opportunity"?
    Thanks for any Llight you can shed on this subject!


    P.S. I'll share a bit of how I explained this word to the Friend after a few of you have had a chance to respond.

    UPDATE: Now that a few Friends have offered their own thoughts, here's a paraphrase of how I explained "opportunity" to this one particular Friend. You'll see that it mirrors some of what others have already mentioned:
    In my own experience, there have been at least two uses of the word "opportunity."

    One is when two or more Friends are gathered, usually for fellowship and conversation as compared to a workshop or worship--and the Friends find they have fallen into worship; the Spirit has covered them if only for a moment or a few passing minutes. So simply be being present to one another, we might experience this sort of Opportunity.

    The other use of the word has been related to a planned event or a planned gathering of Friends, often with an intention of seeking to learn more of each other, to know one another more deeply in That Which Is Eternal, by way of engaging in the planned time and activity together.
    I also made it clear to the Friend with whom I was talking that no one had ever given me a specific definition for this word, but rather I seem to have a small knack for picking up the nuances of terms and language over time. Quakerism and "Quakerese" is no exception.

    And for Friends who happen to have the book that is mentioned in a comment below, On Living with a Concern for Gospel Ministry, Brian Drayton's own consideration of "opportunities" is on pp. 137-148. --Liz

    August 1, 2007

    A preview of posts to come

    Oh my. So many weeks have gone by and I have much to write about but not enough time to write about it all!

    Consider this a preview of topics I hope to cover, in no particular order, in Eighth Month 2007:

  • Demystifying the Gathering's workshop selection process (I plan to post something after I have submitted the final report from the Workshops Committee)

  • Directions to a game I learned at Iowa Yearly Meeting Conservative's annual sessions, called Telephone Pictionary.
    UPDATE: Read about the game here.

  • A summary of Marshall Massey's plenary--that is, his accounting of his faithfulness to travel from Omaha to Harrisonburg, Virginia in 2006 (Marshall's own posts are contained at his Earthwitness Journal in reverse chronological order)

  • A post about everything else related to IYM(C) sessions: new insights and musings, points of interest that arose from Meeting for Worship with attention to Business, and my own opportunity to serve on an ad hoc committee.
    UPDATE: I've completed Part I of my reflections.
  • I'll do my best to get to these things, and I believe they'll come more easily after I complete the final report on behalf of the Workshops Committee for the 2007 Gathering.