Skip to main content

The Return of Quaker Pagan Reflections

Cat at Laurelin.  Peter Bishop, 2011.
Welcome to the new, hopefully improved Quaker Pagan Reflections.

Between leaving Patheos Pagan and this post, Peter has finished the last edit on his novel and begun to pitch it to agents, I have been in negotiations with Anne Newkirk Niven of Pagan Square to carry our blog starting this fall, we have redesigned our layout, and--oh yes! I have also retired from my work as a high school English teacher.

It has been a summer like any other, in many ways: bike rides and trips to the beach, gardening and canning and time with friends.

It has also involved daily trips to Peter's parents in their assisted living center, grief and worry over their failing health and their futures, and for me, a fair amount of soul searching around what to do with Act III of my life.

We have spent more time in meetings with caseworkers and at protests than at the beach, and I have been focused on trying to discern how to be faithful to the promptings of Spirit in the personal and political spheres, having arrived at the point where I don't have to hold down a paying job any more.  I have been referring to myself, not truly joking about it, as a "released Friend"--traditionally, that has meant a Quaker whose financial obligations are supported by their meeting as a way of freeing them to follow a leading from Spirit.

My meeting hasn't spoken on my work--my meeting generally doesn't do such things--but my spiritual accountability group has been very supportive of my identifying the work I've been longing to do as a leading.  Me?  I'm a bit afraid to say that out loud, for fear of jinxing it.

Suppose, now I have time to spend being faithful to the concerns that have been driving me--especially my concern around racism--I don't manage my time well?  Suppose I'm not able to live up to the opportunities I've been given?

Meanwhile, I am a woman living in an aging body, watching her parents and in-laws age, too.  What does it mean to age in this society?  How does it affect my relationship with my spiritual communities, Quaker and Pagan?  What is there to learn from my hot flashes, my aches and pains, my fear?

I have been a teacher, a counselor, a priestess, a writer.  Who am I now? What gifts do I have to share, and how do I organize my life without the grind of lesson prep, grading, and faculty meetings compressing all the rest of life into the margins?  Will I feel a loss of meaning, or a freedom and surge of energy when the first of the big yellow school buses go by next week?

Those are the concerns you're likely to find me writing about, over the next few months.  Stay tuned.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Peter on Grief and Communities

Well, that was unexpected.

For the last year, ever since my mom's health took a sharp downturn, I've been my dad's ride to Florence Congregational Church on Sundays. That community has been important for my dad and the weekly outing with me was something he always looked forward to and enjoyed, so I didn't mind taking him there. It meant giving up attending my own Quaker meeting for the duration, but I had already been questioning whether silent waiting worship was working for me. I was ready for a sabbatical.
A month ago, my dad was Section-Twelved into a geriatric psych hospital when his dementia started to make him emotionally volatile. I had been visiting him every day at his assisted living facility which was right on my way home from work, but the hospital was almost an hour away. I didn't see him at all for three weeks, and when I did visit him there, it actually took me a couple of seconds to recognize him. He was slumped forward in a wheel chair, looking v…

Quaker and Pagan Means What, Exactly?

Since I began describing myself as a Quaker Pagan, I run into people who are suspicious of my claim to be both Quaker and Pagan. To these folks, Peter and I look like spiritual cheats, trying to sneak fifteen items through the clearly labeled Twelve Item Express Lane of a spiritual life.

“Cafeteria spirituality,” I’ve heard it described, expressing the notion that my husband and I are picking and choosing only the tastiest morsels of either religion, like spoiled children loading our plates with desserts, but refusing to eat our vegetables.

This isn’t the case. The term “cafeteria religion” implies imposing human whims over the (presumably) sacred norms of religion. But Peter and I are both/ands not out of personal preference, but because we were called to our religion… twice. By two different families of Spirit.

I can explain this best through my own story.

I became a Pagan out of a childhood of yearning to be in relationship with nature, magic, and the glimmers of the numinous I fou…

What Do You Mean, Quaker Pagan?

"What do you mean, Quaker Pagan? You can't possibly be both!"

Every now and then, we do get a comment on the blog that, if politely worded, does drive at basically that point. Usually the critic is a Quaker and a Christian, though I have certainly heard similar points raised by Pagans.

Let me state a few things up front. Peter and I both do consider ourselves Pagan. Neither of us considers ourselves to be Christian--I never was one, and Peter hasn't been for decades. And we do consider ourselves to be Quakers... as does our monthly meeting, which extended us membership after the normal clearness process.

We consider ourselves Quaker Pagans. (Why not Pagan Quakers? Pure aesthetics; we think the word order sounds better with Q before P.)

Here's the argument for why Peter and I can't possibly be both:
1. Paganism is a non-Christian religion.
2. Quakers are a Christian denomination.
3. ERGO...

Yes. We've considered that argument, oddly enough. It (an…