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

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 eno

Red in Tooth and Claw

When Nora, Peter's grandmother, lived with us , our household was the nucleus of an active local Pagan community. Over time, dementia eroded more and more of Nora's ability to retain anything she learned about in the present, so she wound up discovering again and again that she was living in a family of Pagans. Over and over, we would have made some reference to our Paganism, and Nora, having forgotten about it for the time being, would ask us to explain again what it was we believed. We would explain, yet again, about all of life being sacred to us, and nature being the source of our inspiration. Each time we did this, we would reach the point in our discussion where she would protest, quoting the line from Tennyson about " Nature, red in tooth and claw ." Nevertheless, we would insist that that was where we looked for the holy, and eventually, she would exclaim (just as she had the time before that): "Well, then, you're all heathens!" When we

There is a Spirit Which I Feel

I was always a "rational use of force" gal. For most of my life I believed that the use of force--by which I meant human beings taking up arms and going off to war to try to kill one another--was a regrettable necessity. Sometimes I liked to imagine that Paganism held an alternative to that, particularly back in the day when I believed in that mythical past era of the peaceful, goddess-worshipping matriarchal societies . (I really liked that version of history, and was sorry when I stopped believing in it as factual.) But that way of seeing reality changed for me, in the time between one footfall and the next, on a sunny fall morning: September 11, 2001. I was already running late for work that day when the phone rang; my friend Abby was calling, to give me the news that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center in New York. So? I thought to myself, picturing a small private aircraft. Abby tried to convey some of what she was hearing--terrorists, fire--but the mag