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Showing posts from March, 2009

Gazing in the Eyes of God

Do you remember falling in love? Do you remember how it is, to be able to spend hours, gazing into the eyes of the beloved? Oh, yeah... you're talking about politics, or pizza, or the movie you just saw. Or maybe you're talking about nothing, just sitting near each other, maybe holding hands, and looking at one another. Just gazing into one another, stoned on love. Remember that? That's worship. I don't mean I worship my husband. I love him an awful lot--but I wouldn't exactly call it worship. (Though I am inclined to think of him as one proof of the existence of God.) What I mean is, that sense, that feeling of deep and timeless immersion in the beloved... that's it. That's what happens, on a good day, when I worship. I arrive, I center down, I look up--or in, or something like that--and there's God. And I just... let go, and look, and love. Week after week, I feel the most intense relief when I enter meeting for worship. All week long, I strug

Quaker Batman

Literal Truth Department disclosure here: Batman is not a Quaker. Not that that's a surprise to anyone familiar with the Dark Knight 's career. Though he does not take life, he is a violent vigilante; and even in his life as Bruce Wayne, his life is not only a testimony to luxury, waste, and conspicuous consumption, his corporation, Wayne Enterprises, has numerous contracts with the Defense Department and the C.I.A. So, lest anyone get the wrong idea here, let me say it straight out: Batman is not a Quaker. Nonetheless, he attends New England Yearly Meeting of Friends on an annual basis, and Peter, at least, would be lost without him. What I mean is this: I've written before about how deep and rich Peter and I have both found the worship at NEYM, particularly in the Meeting for Business. The "Bible half-hour", too, despite a title that kept me away for the first two years attending NEYM, turns out to be gathered, rich, and full, and if I am not a conve

Another Kind of Lectio Divina?

I've been doing a lot of thinking about ways to deepen spiritual experiences lately. (Like my whole life, perhaps? Perhaps.) Thinking about things like trying to arrange spiritual friendship groups at my meeting, or maybe--as a friend of mine suggested--trying out something like spiritual formation groups . I've been reading the Bible, not because I'm a convert to Christianity, but because I feel that I need to become familiar with its poetry and the resonances of its myths in order to be able to hear the depths in vocal ministry and the writings of other Quakers, and wondering if there might not be a way to reach out to other non-Christian Friends interested in doing the same thing, or maybe to Quakers without regard to their theology who are interested in being in a theologically-mixed group that is trying to do this same thing, either through reading the Bible together, or reading the scripture-saturated (but also sensuously experiential) works of early Friends. And

Vitality and Ministry in the Monthly Meeting: One Participant's View

NOTE to my Pagan readership : This is going to be one of those posts where I'm going to write almost entirely from a Quaker point of view. It's not that I don't think these ideas have implications for Pagan leadership and spiritual communities, because I do. But I have not yet digested this material very well, so I am (mostly) setting that question aside for this post. As I've said , I had a pretty wonderful--if overwhelming--weekend at Woolman Hill , attending the retreat Vitality and Ministry in the Monthly Meeting , led by Jennie Isbell and Jay Marshall of Earlham School of Religion . Though they never said it in so many words, the weekend seemed to be a kind of experiential "train-the-trainers" approach. There were at least six specific "units" of study, packed into less than forty-eight hours of time, and the pace at times seemed blistering. (When Jay acknowledged that, in the end of session wrap-up, there was a pretty universal laugh of

Back From Woolman Hill

NOTE: A more objective, content-centered post on this weekend is available here . I've just returned from Woolman Hill , and from Jay Marshall and Jennie Isbell's workshop on Vitality and Ministry in the Monthly Meeting . Jay is the author of Where the Wind Blows: Vitality Among Friends ; Jennie has written Leading Quakers: Discipleship Leadership, A Friends Model . Their presentation to us was sponsored by Earlham School of Religion . I take it they have done similar presentations all over the country, and one of the many satisfactions of attending it was both the grace with which they were able to slip into our New England variation on Quaker culture, and their willingness to offer contrasting experiences and perspectives from differing Quaker cultures across the country. Another satisfaction was the chance to eat, work, chat, learn, and worship with men and women I mostly knew only slightly from New England Yearly Meeting , but whose faithfulness and depth are plainly pa