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Showing posts from July, 2014

A Pagan Isaiah

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Christian.

Like many Pagans–like many Quakers–I have an intense Bible allergy.  That book has been used as a blunt instrument to bludgeon human beings out of their own consciences for far too long, and no member of my society has escaped their share of blows, I think.

However, unlike many Pagans, and unlike many Quakers, I have friends who have been able to share with me glimpses of another Bible, a different book, which actually has been a light for them as they’ve done some extraordinary and humane things.  Their Bible is not a blunt instrument, and is only ever understood in the “Spirit that sent it forth.”  I have learned that it can be worthwhile to challenge myself and my personal Bible allergy by listening to their Bible, when they speak from it, and even attempting to read in it myself, in that same Spirit.

“I hate the Bible,” I have said.

“Begin with the prophets,” one of my friends replied.  And since she is a woman who is r…

A Perfect Day

I am running an experiment in perfection, and yesterday, I had a perfect day.

I worked in the garden.  Cabbage moths have infested the pac choi. The tomato supports are failing, and their branches trail the ground.

I drank coffee, read a book and tried to meditate in the sun. I was sleepy, and the coffee had gone cold.

I stretched, and walked down to the end of the lawn to salute the gods at our outdoor altar.  I felt the life in my connection to my gods again. I bowed to them and said hello.  The icons on our altar are different heights, and do not look like gods. Anyone but me would probably think that they are absurd.
I made lunch from vegetables I’d grown in our own garden. The mustard greens are getting old, and the salad was slightly bitter because of them.

In the afternoon, I walked to the beach, a beach chair strapped to my back. It was good to feel my muscles working, and it was good to feel the water against my skin. Ugly pollen floated on the water.  After a while,…

Here I Am, Wasn't I?

There’s an experience known to many meditators, sometimes known as the Here I Am Wasn’t I? experience.  The idea is this: you are sitting diligently, meditating away, and just for a moment, you experience a flash of that simple, actual conscious presence that is the goal of your meditation.  You notice that you are simply and fully aware of the present moment, and then BAM! almost immediately, your awareness shifts to noticing how present and aware you are and just like that, you’re no longer meditating, you’re meta-tating, and you’ve lost exactly that present awareness you are now celebrating.  “Here I Am Wasn’t I!”

There is something very much akin to that in all spiritual work, and certainly in the kind of Quaker work called ministry.  The whole point of ministry–perhaps of Quaker life in general–is to learn to be aware of and faithful to the promptings of Spirit in our lives.  Meeting for worship is practice in listening for the small, still inward voice that sends …

The Work in the Middle

This past week, I got to share my spiritual journey with my Quaker meeting.

I’ve shared a written version of my journey before, here, at Quaker Pagan Reflections.  However, I’ve never attempted to describe my religious path in person before.  It took me a little while to figure out how I needed to approach it.

My invitation was one in a series of talks at Mt. Toby Meeting, and on the one hand, there was nothing unusual about it.  On the other hand, it seemed to me that sharing the story of how I have experienced the movement of Spirit in my life is a form of ministry… and I’m committed to the Friends’ idea that even a prepared message needs to rise from a spiritual prompting.

“Ministry” in a Quaker context is usually taken to mean vocal ministry: the messages given out of the silence of expectant waiting that forms the heart of a Quaker meeting.  The idea is not unlike the Wiccan practice of Drawing Down the Moon, though it differs dramatically that in most unprogrammed m…